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Introduction 5 

Chapter  I. — Early  instruction  in  the  vernacular  preceding  English  gram- 
mar   11 

1.  Character  of  vernacular  instruction  in  English,  1596-1622 12 

2.  Reasons  for  early  emphasis  on  vernacular  in  America 15 

3.  Character  of  vernacular  instruction  in  America,  1620-1720 17 

Chapter  II. — Early  appearances  of  English  grammar  in  America 21 

1.  Schools  and  schoolmasters  teaching  English  grammar  before  1775....  21 

2.  English  grammars  in  America  before  1784 33 

3.  Early  instruction  in  English  grammar  in  American  colleges 36 

Chapter  III. — Influences  adding  grammars  to  the  curriculum: 43 

1.  Franklin's  English  school 43 

2.  The  influence  of  the  Philadelphia  English  school 49 

3.  Educational  theories  supporting  grammar  in  America  up  to  1775....  55 
Chapter  IV. — The  rapid  rise  of  grammar  after  1775 70 

1.  The  legislative  recognition  of  grammar 70 

2.  The  flood  of  textbooks  after  1784 77 

3.  The  extent  of  instruction  in  grammar  in  representative  States, 
1800-1850 82 

4.  The  status  of  grammar,  1850  to  1870 92 

Chapter  V. — Traditional  methods  of  teaching  Latin  grammar  transferred 

to  English  grammar. _ „ 103 

1.  Grammar  as  an  art 105 

2.  Methods  used  in  studying  Lily,  and  Latin  grammar  in  general, 

seventeenth  century _  107 

3.  Latin  methods  carried  directly  to  English  grammar  memorization....  Ill 

4.  Parsing 120 

5.  False  syntax 122 

6.  Subordinate    methods 124 

7.  Methods  used  by  Hughes  and  Byerley 128 

Chapter  VI. — Gradual  changes  in  method  before  1850 132 

1.  The  nature  of  the  dominating  textbooks,  1823-50 134 

2.  Other  agents  and  agencies  in  the  inductive  approach 140 

3.  Chief  features  of  the  inductive  movement  applied  to  grammar 144 

Appendix  A.  Chronological  catalogue  of  English  grammars  in  America 

before  1800 155 

Appendix   B.  A  comparison  of  the  English  programs  of  Turnbull   and 

Franklin ' 158 

List  of  authorities  cited  in  this  dissertation : 

I.  Primary  sources 161 

II.  Secondary  authorities 165 

Index „„ 169 



BEFORE  1850. 

"A  history  of  English  grammar  in  the  United  States  would  afford  some 
amusement  if  a  rational  mind  could  derive  any  amusement  from  perusing  a 
record  of  abortive  attempts  to  teach  the  correct  use  of  language  by  every  means 
but  actual  practice  in  the  art  of  speaking  and  writing  it." — Wallis  (W.  B. 
Fowle)    (1850). 



English  grammar,  as  a  formal  subject,  distinct  from  other  branches 
of  instruction  in  the  vernacular,  made  but  sporadic  appearances  in  the 
American  schools  before  1775.  After  the  Revolution  its  rise  was 
extremely  rapid.  English  grammar  gained  momentum  as  the  hold  of 
Latin  grammar  weakened,  and  by  the  end  of  the  first  quarter  of  the 
nineteenth  century  it  became  so  generally  taught  that  the  common 
term  grammar  school,  formerly  applied  to  the  secondary  school  of 
the  Latin-grammar  type,  was  now  by  common  consent  used  to  desig- 
nate an  intermediate  school  with  English  grammar  as  its  central 
study.  After  1825  the  prominence  of  English  grammar  became 
gradually  more  marked,  until  it  reached  its  height  about  1850-1875. 
Then  began  a  period  of  decline,  continuing  until  the  time  of  the  Com- 
mittee of  Fifteen,  which  made  its  report  in  1895.1 

The  past  25  years  have  seen  a  revival  of  attention  to  grammar,  but 
of  a  very  much  saner  type  than  before.  No  other  study  in  the  cur- 
riculum has  had  a  more  spectacular  rise  and  a  more  dramatic  fall. 
Moreover,  concerning  no  other  study  to-day  are  educators  more  in 

The  first  purpose  of  this  study  is  to  trace  the  course  of  this  rise  and 
fall,  with  the  changing  educational  ideals  and  theories  accompanying 
it ;  to  analyze  the  causes  of  the  varied  changes  of  the  subject,  and  to 
determine  when,  where,  why,  and  by  wThom  the  successive  modifica- 
tions were  inaugurated  and  carried  out  prior  to  1850. 

1  Rept.  Com.  Fifteen,  Jour.  Tree,  N.  E.  A.,  1895,  p.  232.  For  recommendations  concern- 
ing grammar  see  Rept.  Com.  Fifteen,  Educational  Review,  IX,  234-41. 

2  The  National  Council  of  Teachers  of  English  on  Nov.  27,  1915,  in  Chicago,  appointed  a 
committee  to  consider  and  recommend  a  suitable  treatment  in  the  schools  of  formal 



The  second  purpose*  of  this  dissertation  is  to  arrange  systematically 
these  varying  methods  used  from  1750  to  1850  and  to  show  how  they 
are  interrelated  both  with  the  shifting  conceptions  of  the  nature 
and  purpose  of  grammar  and  with  the  place  given  the  study  in  the 

No  effort  seems  to  have  been  made  to  develop  these  two  important 
aspects  of  English  grammar  with  historical  accuracy.  Indeed,  trea- 
tises on  the  general  curriculum,  in  their  infrequent  references  to  this 
particular  branch  of  the  vernacular,  are  filled  with  inaccurate  state- 
ments of  fact  and  with  misleading  generalizations,  particularly  in 
regard  to  the  early  periods.3  Only  one  who  has  had  to  deal  with  such 
inaccuracies  can  realize  how  difficult  it  is  to  ascertain  the  truth  con- 
cerning English  grammar.  It  is  therefore  with  due  reservations 
that  the  writer  states,  as  his  third  purpose,  an  effort  to  establish  with 
concrete  data  a  basis  of  reliable  facts,  especially  in  the  vague  period 
of  English  grammar  before  the  American  Revolution. 

A  fourth  purpose  which  this  study  has  been  compelled  to  consider 
incidentally  is  to  show  how  grammar  was  interrelated  with  declama- 
tion, oratory,  composition,  and  literature,  as  these  five  branches  of 
instruction  in  the  mother  tongue  of  a  higher  order  than  reading, 
writing,  and  spelling  gradually  made  their  way  into  the  program  of 
American  schools. 


This  investigation  rests  primarily  upon  an  intensive  examination 
of  early  English  grammars,  with  special  attention  to  those  in  use 
from  1750  to  1850.  The  date  1750  has  been  determined  upon  as  most 
suitable  to  mark  the  beginnings  of  instruction  in  formal  English 
grammar  in  America.4 

The  grammars,  then,  of  the  eighteenth  century,  many  of  which 
passed  through  several  editions  both  in  England  and  America,  were 

8  Three  examples  of  such  errors  will  suffice  to  illustrate.  One  writer  affirms  :  "  English 
Grammar  was  there  (in  Caleb  Bingham's  school,  1790)  taught  for  the  first  time  in 
Boston."  W.  B.  Fowle,  English  Grammar,  C.  S.  J.,  XII  (1850),  72.  Here  is  an  error  of 
at  least  23  years  (see  Ch.  II,  p.  23,  which  has  been  widely  accepted  as  stating  the  truth. 
Again,  Noah  Webster  affirmed  that  "  no  English  grammar  was  generally  taught  in  com- 
mon schools  when  I  was  young."  (1770.  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  XIII,  124.  Letter  to  Henry 
Barnard,  dated  1840.)  This,  coming  from  the  author  of  at  least  the  fifth  American  gram- 
mar (see  Chap.  II)  (not  the  first,  as  commonly  believed),  has  been  largely  influential 
in  misinforming  later  writers  upon  the  curriculum.  Again,  so  careful  a  writer  as  Reeder 
asserts,  concerning  Noah  Webster's  "  Grammatical  Institutes  of  the  English  Language," 
"  these  books  [a  speller,  grammar,  and  reader,  1783-1785]  were  the  first  works  of  the  kind 
published  in  the  United  States.  They  were  gradually  introduced  into  most  of  the  schools 
of  the  country."  Reeder,  Hist.  Dev.  of  Sch.  Readers,  etc.,  30.  On  the  contrary,  Webster"s 
grammar  was  not  the  first  American  grammar,  and  it  enjoyed  neither  a  long  nor  an  exten- 
sive use  as  a  textbook.  W.  B.  Fowle,  op.  cit.,  74  and  203.  Reeder's  statement  is  accurate 
concerning  the  speller  and  the  reader,  but  it  is  quite  erroneous  concerning  Part.  II  of 
Webster's   series. 

4  See  Chap.  II,  p.  33. 


largely  influential  in  determining  school  practices  of  the  day.  Book 
learning  in  the  eighteenth  century  had  an  even  more  literal  significance 
than  it  has  to-day  in  many  an  ill-conducted  classroom.  "As  the  text- 
book, so  the  study  "  is  a  comparatively  safe  assumption. 

So,  too,  for  primary  evidence  as  to  the  changes  in  methods  of 
instruction,  beginning  about  1823,  the  writer  has  turned  to  the  lead- 
ing texts  of  the  various  periods.  For  example,  this  dissertation 
points  out  that  1850  was  the  central  turning  point  in  the  history  of 
methods  in  grammar.5  Greene's  "Analysis  "  of  1847  was  the  culmi- 
nation of  various  influences  breaking  away  from  the  older  concep- 
tions and  the  forerunner  of  numerous  other  textbooks  of  the  next  25 
years.  Likewise  Swinton's  Language  Lessons,  of  1873,  came  as  the 
result  of  scattered  agitation  and  efforts  of  the  previous  quarter 
century,  and  in  their  wide  adoption  Swinton's  Lessons  fastened  upon 
the  schools  the  new  idea  of  grammar  as  incidental  to  exercises  in 
writing  and  speaking.  And,  of  a  more  recent  period,  Swett's  Gram- 
mar, with  its  imitators,  has  given  the  still  newer  turn  of  incidental 
study  to  the  subject  of  formal  grammar. 

In  addition  to  the  textbooks  themselves  the  educational  writings  of 
authors  contemporary  with  the  various  periods  have  thrown  consid- 
erable light  upon  various  advances  made  in  classroom  methods.  To 
be  sure,  a  commentator  like  Comenius,  Hoole,  Brinsley,  Locke,  Frank- 
lin, or  Mann  is  usually,  in  his  theory,  more  or  less  in  advance  of  his 
time,  and  the  reforms  he  advocates  are  indicative  of  methods  which 
do  not  become  general  for  a  considerable  period  after  his  advocacy  of 

In  addition,  the  writer  is  indebted  to  Dr.  Marcus  W.  Jernegan^  of 
the  University  of  Chicago,  for  generous  advice  and  assistance,  and 
especially  for  permission  to  use  his  voluminous  data  on  private 
schools  taken  from  colonial  newspapers.  This  material  has  been  of 
invaluable  aid,  especially  in  indicating  many  of  the  private  schools 
of  the  eighteenth  century  whose  schoolmasters  were  pioneers  in 
adding  English  grammar  to  their  curricula. 

~See  Chap.  VI,  p.  133. 

6  For  example,  in  1786  Benjamin  Rush,  of  Pennsylvania,  advocated,  concerning  the 
teaching  of  English  grammar,  principles  which  even  in  1920  are  very  far  from  being 

"  Let  the  first  eight  years  of  a  boy's  time  be  employed  in  learning  to  speak,  spell,  read, 
and  write  the  English  language.  For  this  purpose,  let  him  be  committed  to  the  care  of  a 
master  who  speaks  correctly  at  all  times,  and  let  the' books  he  reads  be  written  in  a  simple 
but  correct  style.  During  these  years  let  not  an  English  grammar  by  any  means  be  put 
into  his  hands.  It  is  to  most  boys  under  12  years  of  age  an  unintelligible  book.  As  well 
might  we  contend  that  a  boy  should  be  taught  the  names  and  number  of  the  humors  of 
the  eye  or  the  muscles  of  the  tongue,  in  order  to  learn  to  see  or  to  speak,  as  be  taught  the 
English  language  by  means  of  grammar.  Sancho  Panza  in  attempting  to  learn  to  read  by 
chewing  the  four  and  twenty  letters  of  the  alphabet  did  not  exhibit  a  greater  absurdity 
than  a  boy  of  seven  or  eight  years  old  does  in  committing  grammar  rules  to  memory  in 
order  to  understand  the  English  language."  Wickersham,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  Pa.,  234. 
"  Between  his  fourteenth  and  eighteenth  years  he  should  be  instructed  in  grammar, 
oratory,"  etc.     Ibid.,  255. 


The  history  of  the  actual  teaching  of  English  grammar  is  quite 
different  from  a  history  of  the  theories  of  teaching  grammar. 
Throughout  this  study  the  author  has  endeavored  to  keep  strictly  to 
the  former  point  of  view— that  is,  to  keep  a  firm  hold  upon  the  actual 
classroom  practices  of  successive  periods.  Evidence  of  an  extensive 
sale  of  textbooks,  for  example,  is  taken  as  reliable  proof  as  to  what 
constituted  the  subject  matter  of  schoolroom  activities. 

More  reliable,  however,  than  textbooks  or  educational  writings  for 
determining  the  exact  status  of  English  grammar  at  any  definite 
period  are  statutes,  curricula,  and  school  reports.  Wherever  it  has 
been  possible,  these  sources  have  been  utilized  to  determine  how  far 
school  practices  in  any  period  conformed  to  the  theories  of  the  best 
educational  writers  and  embodied  the  innovations  of  the  most  pro- 
gressive textbooks.  Incidental  to  these,  information  has  been  derived 
from  town  histories,  reports  of  educational  commissions,  early  jour- 
nals of  education,  and  such  other  information  as  may  be  found  in 
miscellaneous  sources,  like  newspaper  advertisements,  reminiscences, 
lives  of  schoolmasters,  and  histories  of  individual  institutions. 



This  study  has  to  deal  primarily  with  English  grammar  in  Ameri- 
can schools.  Main  interest  therefore  centers  upon  the  eighteenth  and 
nineteenth  centuries.  Indeed,  the  year  1750,  the  date  of  the  first 
important  vernacular  school  in  America  to  center  its  instruction 
around  English  grammar,  is  about  200  years  too  late  at  which  to 
begin  the  study  of  the  development  of  this  branch  of  teaching.  But 
the  important  fact  to  bear  in  mind  is  that  this  is  a  study  of  English 
grammar,  not  of  the  vernacular.  Moreover,  it  is  a  study  of  English 
grammar  in  America,  not  in  England.  Therefore  its  treatment 
plunges  in  medias  res  and  touches  upon  the  vernacular  before  the 
eighteenth  century  and  upon  grammar  in  England  only  as  demanded 
by  the  course  of  the  subject  in  America  and  as  directly  inherited  from 
England  in  theories,  textbooks,  and  schoolroom  practices. 


It  has  apparently  been  the  fate  of  new  branches  in  vernacular 
instruction,  once  introduced  into  American  schools,  to  be  carried  to 
excess.  Perhaps  this  is  not  true  of  reading  and  writing;  but  of  the 
newer  branches,  spelling,  which  began  correctly  as  an  incidental 
study,  became  a  craze  in  the  first  quarter  of  the  nineteenth  century 
and  came  to  occupy  an  undue  proportion  of  attention.  Elaborate 
school  instruction  was  supplemented  by  evening  spelling  schools  and 
spelling    matches.     Webster's    blue-backed    speller    enjoyed    a    sale 


unrivaled  in  our  school  annals.7  Fifty  years  after  the  dominance  of 
spelling  English  grammar  rose  to  its  height,  occupying,  from  1850 
to  1875,  three  to  seven  years  of  the  secondary  schools  and,  in  addition, 
a  prominent  place  in  the  high  schools.  After  1875,  with  the  sub- 
sidence of  grammar  to  its  correct  place  as  an  incidental  study,  com- 
position gained  in  strength,  and,  together  with  literature  carefully 
prescribed  by  college  entrance  requirements,  to-day  monopolizes  one- 
fourth  of  the  high-school  curriculum,  while  formal  language  lessons 
predominate  in  the  elementary  school. 

The  history  of  spelling  and  of  grammar  suggests  that  50  years 
hence  educators  will  be  saying  that  in  the  two  decades  from  1900  to 
1920  the  school  had  not  yet  discovered  that  language  habits  are  not 
most  advantageously  acquired  in  formal  composition ;  that  literature 
is  a  present  reality,  with  living  poets  and  prose  writers,  rather  than  a 
dusty  contribution  from  masters  who  lived  centuries  ago.  The  his- 
torian of  the  future  may  smile  at  the  excess  of  oral  composition  when 
carried  into  elaborate  State  declamatory  contests.  Indeed,  in  the  light 
of  the  past  one  argument  for  increasing  the  time  given  to  formal  classes 
in  the  vernacular  is  at  least  questionable.  If  children  can  not  spell, 
we  are  urged,  give  them  more  classes  in  spelling;  if  they  are  gram- 
matically inaccurate,  give  them  more  grammar ;  if  they  can  not  write, 
give  them  more  classes  in  composition ;  if  they  can  not  appreciate  the 
pale  heroes  of  King  Arthur's  court,  give  them  Milton's  minor  poems 
and  Carlyle's  Essay  on  Burns.  The  very  questionable  logic  of  this 
argument  led  to  excess  in  the  time  devoted  to  spelling  and  to  gram- 
mar, and  it  has  been  a  powerful  factor  in  advancing  composition  and 
literature  to  their  present  status. 

There  can  be  little  doubt  that  the  period  1900  to  1920  is  the  heyday 
of  formal  composition  and  of  the  classics  in  the  English  curriculum, 
just  as  the  date  1825  was  the  heyday  of  spelling  and  that  of  1860  the 
heyday  of  grammar.  And  still  the  cry  is  that  English  departments 
are  failures  and  their  product  exceedingly  imperfect,  and  English 
teachers  are  demanding  ever  larger  appropriations.  English  is  more 
fortunate  than  its  sister  studies  in  being  able  to  have  the  value  of  its 
product  weighed  every  day  in  the  practical  life  of  its  graduates. 
English  welcomes  criticism  of  its  deficiency.  English  is  experi- 
menting with  conversation  lessons,  with  present-day  literature ;  Eng- 
lish is  begging  other  departments  to  cooperate  in  establishing  correct 
language  habits:  English  is  endeavoring  to  put  oral  composition  on 
a  sensible  basis.  Here  and  there  a  daring  reformer  is  advocating  less 
time  for  formal  classes  in  English,  their  place  to  be  taken  by  more 
general  and  uniform  guidance  in  language  habits.    Here  and  there 

7  "  It  is  computed  that  more  than  80,000,000  copies  of  this  spelling  book  were  sold  before 
1880."     Evans   Am.  Bibl.;  6,  263. 


school  officials  are  even  rejecting  for  other  departments  teachers  whose 
English  is  slovenly,  just  as  they  reject  candidates  whose  appearance  is 
careless  and  uncleanly. 

History  in  the  teaching  of  the  mother  tongue  is  being  made  to-day. 
Therefore  the  writer  feels  that  any  light  which  may  be  thrown  upon 
the  history  of  any  one  branch  of  English  instruction  from  its  very 
beginning  in  America  may  assist  modern  reformers  in  securing  a 
better  perspective  as  they  advance  to  more  important  innovations. 
The  heart  of  the  newer  movements  in  the  vernacular  is  well  expressed 
by  Sir  Oliver  Lodge :  "  Language  should  be  learned  in  a  pupil's 
stride — not  by  years  of  painful  application."  This  sentiment,  more- 
over, is  the  direct  opposite  of  the  spirit  and  aims  of  instruction  in 
formal  grammar  in  America  up  to  1850. 

Chapter  I. 


The  history  of  the  educational  changes  by  which  instruction  in  the 
English  vernacular  has  been  grafted  upon  the  classical  instruction  of 
the  sixteenth  century  involves  two  distinct  movements.  The  first 
occurred  after  the  Reformation;  it  was  led  by  Comenius,  Brinsley, 
Hoole,  and  others ;  it  resulted  in  the  addition  of  reading,  writing,  and 
spelling  in  the  mother  tongue  to  the  curriculum  of  elementary  schools 
and  to  the  lower  classes  of  grammar  schools.8  The  second  movement 
may  be  said  to  have  begun  in  1693  with  John  Locke  and  his  immediate 
followers ;  it  resulted  in  the  addition  of  English  grammar,  composi- 
tion, both  oral  and  written,  and  literature  to  the  curriculum  of  inter- 
mediate schools  and  colleges.9 

While  it  is  true  that  these  two  movements,  corresponding  roughly 
to  the  seventeenth  and  eighteenth  centuries,  respectively,  were  closely 
related,  they  were  also  quite  distinct  and  involve  two  different  con- 
ceptions of  education.  The  seventeenth-century  reform  demanded  the 
vernacular  for  two  reasons:  First,  as  a  necessary  preliminary  for 
boys  who  were  to  continue  their  education  in  the  classics;  second,  as 
suitable  instruction  for  the  masses,  not  destined  for  higher  schools, 
but  needing  to  read  the  Bible  in  the  vernacular,  according  to  the 
spirit  of  the  Reformation. 

The  important  consideration  is  that  the  seventeenth-century  reform 
still  regarded  education  in  the  classics  as  of  highest  worth.  On  the 
contrary,  the  eighteenth-century  reform  began  where  the  former  left 
off.  It  found  the  elementary  branches  of  the  vernacular  established 
as  the  preliminaries  of  classical  instruction.  John  Locke  headed  the 
revolt  against  the  Latin  curriculum  as  the  sole  content  of  secondary 
education.  He  and. his  followers  insisted  that  the  mother  tongue 
itself  is  better  suited  than  Latin  to  serve  at  once  as  the  end  and  the 
vehicle  of  secondary  education.  They  placed  English  in  the  cur- 
riculum not  as  preliminary  to  but  as  a  substitute  for  the  Latin  tongue.10 
It  was  through  this  eighteenth-century  movement  that  English  gram- 

8  See  Watson,  Beginnings  of  Mod.  Subj.,  20,  for  excellent  discussion  of  this  earlier 

•  See  Chap.  Ill,  p.  55.  10  Full  discussion  in  Chap.  Ill,  p.  55. 




mar,  composition,  and  literature  entered  the  curriculum  and  bega: 
the  course  which  has  brought  them  to  the  dignified  place  they  occupy 

It  is  obvious  that  a  study  which  seeks  to  trace  the  entrance  of 
English  grammar  into  American  pedagogy  has  to  deal  primarily 
with  the  eighteenth-century  reform.  In  other  words,  the  point  of 
departure  in  this  dissertation  may  be  said  to  be  1693,  the  date  of  John 
Locke's  Thoughts  on  Education.  The  first  movement  for  the  ver- 
nacular, with  its  causes  and  results,  is  postulated  as  having  been  com- 
pleted, and  the  later  reform  of  the  eighteenth  century  begun,  by  that 

This  thesis  shows  that  English  grammar  was  introduced  primarily 
as  the  core  study  of  a  secondary  school  curriculum  of  the  English 
rather  than  of  the  Latin  type;  that  the  traditions  of  Latin  gram- 
mar as  the  heart  of  grammar-school  instruction  pointed  at  first  posi- 
tively and  directly  to  English  grammar  as  the  core  of  an  English 
program  of  equal  rank  with  the  Latin  grammar  program.  In  other 
words,  this  dissertation  is  the  story  of  the  process  by  which  the 
dreary  grind  of  Latin  grammar  was  supplanted,  for  the  great 
majority  of  American  school  children,  by  the  almost  equally  futile 
grind  of  English  grammar. 

Although  we  have  selected  1693  as  the  starting  point  of  our  discus- 
sion, let  us  now  examine  briefly  the  character  of  the  vernacular 
instruction  in  England  and  America  from  1620  to  the  end  of  the 
seventeenth  century.  This  is  done  merely  to  establish  a  suitable 
background  for  the  entrance  of  English  grammar.  It  is  a  glance  at 
what  vernacular  instruction  was  just  before  grammar  appeared  in 



In  1596  Edmund  Coote  published  in  London  his  famous  vernacular 
textbook  for  "  pettie  "  schools.  The  title  indicates  its  nature :  "  The 
English  School  Master,  Teaching  all  his  Scholars,  of  what  age 
soever,  the  most  easy,  short,  and  perfect  order  of  distinct  Reading, 
and  true  Writing  our  English-tongue.  *  *  *  " 1X  Brinsley  and 
Hoole,  leading  school  writers  of  their  day — 1600-1650 — both  speak  of 
Coote's  School  Master,  1596,  as  a  popular  text  for  elementary 
schools.12  Before  1656  the  book  had  passed  through  26  editions, 
proof  enough  of  its  popularity.13 

An  examination  of  the  contents  of  this  text  enables  one' to  see  early 
seventeenth-century  vernacular  instruction  in  England.    Thirty-two 

"Barnard,  Am    J.  of  Ed.,  I  (1856),  309. 

"Brinsley,  Ludus  Literaris,  18.     Hoole,  New  Discovery,  43. 

18  Watson,  Grammar  Schools,  177. 


pages  are  given  to  instruction  in  the  alphabet  and  spelling ;  about  18 
pages  to  the  catechism,  prayers,  and  psalms ;  five  pages  to  chronology ; 
two  to  writing  copies;  two  to  arithmetic;  the  remainder  to  lists  of 
hard  words  "  sensibly  explained."  The  child  using  this  book  first 
learned  his  letters,  then  short  syllables,  next  longer  ones,  then  reading 
by  the  word  method,  with  spelling  incidental  to  both  alphabet  and 
reading.    Writing  was  insignificant.1* 

Brinsley's  course  in  the  "  pettie  "  school  consisted  of  studies  in  this 
order:  The  alphabet,  the  ABC  (including  spelling)  taught  by  the 
use  of  Coote's  School  Master,  the  primer  "  twice  thro,"  The  Psalms 
in  Meter,  The  Testament,  and  the  "  Schoole  of  Vertue,"  together  with 
"  The  Schoole  of  good  manners."  15 

A  complete  description  of  vernacular  instruction  at  the  end  of  the 
sixteenth  century  is  given  by  Charles  Hoole.  In  1659  Hoole  pub- 
lished "A  New  Discovery  of  the  Old  Art  of  Teaching  School,"  having 
been  written  23  years  before.16  Hoole,  to  be  sure,  was  mainly  inter- 
ested in  the  Latin  school,  but  he  also  prescribes  a  "  petty  schoole  "  for 
children  between  the  ages  of  4  and  8.  Hoole  was  a  practical  school 
man,  head  master  of  the  Rotherdam  Grammar  School  in  Yorkshire, 
and  principal  of  a  private  school  in  London.17 

Hoole  based  his  discussion  of  methods  upon  the  following  arrange- 

1.  Preparatory  lessons  in  vocalization  before  learning  the  letters. 

2.  Learning  the  alphabet  with  the  hornbook. 

3.  Proceeding  from  syllables  of  two  letters,  various  vowels  with 
each  consonant,  using  dice,  pictures,  charts.  In  his  primer  Hoole 
gives  a  picture  with  the  letters.  "  I  have  published  a  New  Primar. 
In  the  first  leafe  whereof  I  have  set  Roman  Capitalls  .  .  .  and  have 
joyned  therewith  the  pictures  or  images  of  some  things  whose  names 
begins  (Hoole's  grammar  is  imperfect)  with  that  letter,  by  which  a 
childs  memory  may  be  helped,  ...  as  A  for  an  Ape,  B  for  a 
Bear,  etc." 

4.  Teaching  the  child  to  spell  distinctly;  pronounce  the  vowels 
alone ;  teaching  the  force  of  the  consonants ;  syllables  of  one  consonant 
before  a  vowel ;  teaching  the  diphthongs ;  then  begin  spelling  of  words 
(learning  six  rules  of  spelling). 

14  Watson,  177.  It  is  worth  noting  that  English  grammar  made  its  way  into  America 
chiefly  through  Dilworth's  "  New  Guide  to  the  English  Tongue,"  1740.  which  was  a  reader, 
speller,  and  grammar  combined.  A  composite  textbook  was  popular  when  books  were 
scarce.  Coote's  composite  book  was  an  early  prototype  of  such  texts,  of  which  Dilworth 
was  the  most  widely  used  in  America.     (See  Ch.  II,  p.  33.) 

15  Brinsley,  14-18.  Tbe  title  of  this  book  is  "  The  Schools  of  Vertue  and  booke  of  good 
Nourture  for  cbyldren  and  youth  to  learne  theyr  dutie  by,"  by  Francis  Seager  (earliest 
edition  1557;  one  as  late  as  1677).  Reprinted,  Early  English  Text  Society,  The  Babees 
Book,   332-55. 

"Reprinted  in  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  XVII  (1864),  195,  225,  293;  more  recently  by  C.  W. 

17  "  The  Petty  Schoole  "  was  printed  in  Paul's  Church  Yard  in  1659.  Bardeen's  reprint, 
27   (title  page). 


5.  Teaching  him  to  read  any  English  book  perfectly. 

The  ordinary  way  to  teach  children  to  read  is,  after  they  have  got  some  knowl- 
edge of  their  letters  and  a  smattering  of  some  syllables  and  words  in  the  horn- 
book, to  turn  them  into  the  A  B  C  or  Primar,  and  therein*  to  make  them  name 
the  letters,  and  spell  the  words,  till  by  often  use  they  can  pronounce  (at  least) 
the  shortest  words  at  first  sight. 

For  these  books  Hoole  substitutes  the  Lord's  Prayer,  the  Creed, 
and  the  Ten  Commandments  printed  in  Roman  capitals.  He  would 
have  the  child  pronounce  the  words  he  can  at  first  sight  and  "  What 
he  can  not,  to  spell  them,  and  to  go  them  often  over,  till  he  can  tell 
any  tittle  in  them  either  in  or  without  the  book." 

Then  Hoole  adds  reading  over  "  Psalms,  Thankesgivings,  and 
Prayers  .  .  .  till  he  have  them  pretty  well  by  heart."  Textbooks 
are  "  The  Psalter,  The  Psalms  in  Meeter,  The  Schoole  of  good  man- 
ners, ...  or  such  like  easy  books  " ;  then  the  Bible,  beginning  with 
Genesis.  Finally  have  him  "  take  liberty  to  exercise  himself  in  any 
English, book."  When  "  he  can  perfectly  read  in  any  place  of  a  book 
that  is  oifered  him  ...  I  adjudge  him  fit  to  enter  into  a  Grammar 
Schoole,  but  not  before.  .  .  .  For  thus  learning  to  read  English  per- 
fectly I  allow  two  or  three  years  time,  so  that  at  seven  or  eight  years 
of  age  a  child  may  begin  Latine."  18 

What  the  curriculum  of  the  average  charity  school  of  England  was 
about  1700  may  be  seen  in  an  account  of  the  Charity  Schools  of 
Great  Britain  and  Ireland.  Orders  which  were  in  effect  in  many 
schools  were  as  follows : 

Pronunciation:  The  Master  Shall  make  it  his  chief  Business  to  Instruct  the 
Children  ...  in  the  Church  Catechism ;  which  he  shall  first  teach  them  to 
pronounce  distinctly  and  plainly. 

Spelling:  The  Master  shall  teach  them  the  true  spelling  of  Words  and  Distinc- 
tion of  Syllables,  with  the  Points  and  Stops,  which  is  necessary  to  true  and 
good  Reading. 

Reading:  As  soon  as  the  Boys  can  Read  completely  well,  the  Master  shall 

Writing:       teach  them  to  Write  a  fair  legible  Hand. 

There  is  presented  an  account  of  100  such  schools  (1710),  with 
2,480  boys  and  1,381  girls,  which  had  been  set  up  during  the  preceding 
14  years.  A  common  stipulation  in  many  gifts  for  these  schools  runs 
"  for  teaching  them  to  Read,  Write,  Cast  Account,  and  Work,  and 
for  instructing  them  to  the  knowledge  of  the  Christian  Religion."  19 

On  the  basis  of  this  examination  of  Coote,  Brinsley,  and  Hoole  we 
are  able  to  see  the  nature  of  vernacular  instruction  in  England  in  the 
better  "  petty  "  schools  from  1569  and  continuing  until  the  eighteenth 

18  Bardeen,  op.  cit.,  31-53. 

Hoole  adds  a  chapter  to  his  "  Petty  Schoole  "  in  which  he  points  out  how  children  for 
whom  Latin  is  thought  unnecessary  may  be  employed  after  they  have  learned  English. 
Ibid.,  54. 

19An  account  of  the  Charity  Schools  of  Great  Britain  and  Ireland,  9th  ed.,  1710,  3-15. 


century.  If  Hoole  is  correct,  "  the  A.  B.  C.  being  now  (I  may  say) 
generally  thrown  aside,  and  the  ordinary  Primar  not  printed,"  20  the 
use  of  these  two  famous  educational  instruments  was  diminishing, 
together  with  the  hornbook.21 

We  may  sum  up  the  English  practice  at  the  time  the  first  American 
colonies  were  established  by  saying  that  vernacular  instruction  con- 
sisted of  elementary  reading,  spelling,  and  writing;  that  it  retained 
an  intensely  religious  purpose,  involving  ability  to  read  the  Bible; 
that  it  was  regarded  as  preliminary  to  the  study  of  Latin.  We  shall 
see  that  these  characteristics  were  transferred  bodily  to  the  first 
elementary  schools  of  America. 


Two  major  reasons  led  the  English  colonists  to  stress  the  mother 
tongue  in  elementary  instruction.  As  is  customary,  our  consideration 
begins  with  the  Puritan  colony  of  Massachusetts,  the  character  of  the 
first  settlers,  their  purpose  in  coming  to  America,  and  their  major 
interests  in  the  new  land.  Only  eight  years  after  the  settlement  of 
Massachusetts  Bay  that  Colony  established  a  college  in  Cambridge. 
Harvard  was  founded  in  1636.22  This  highly  significant  act  was  due 
to  the  fact  that  a  large  proportion  of  the  first  settlers  were  thoroughly 
acquainted  with  the  higher  education  and  educational  institutions  of 
the  mother  country.23  By  1650,  within  New  England,  there  had  set- 
tled at  least  90  men,  ministers,  the  leaders  of  Massachusetts  Bay,  most 
of  whom  were  graduates  of  Oxford  and  Cambridge.  Three-fourths 
of  these  were  from  Cambridge,  the  hotbed  of  revolt  against  Laud  and 
established  religious  authority.  They  had  been  students  there  between 
the  years  1600  and  1650,  contemporaries  of  Robinson,  Cromwell,  and 
Milton.  Of  this  number  were  John  Cotton,  John  Ward,  John  Har- 
vard, John  Winthrop,  Henry  Dunster,  and  many  others,  not  all 
clergymen.  By  1650  the  immigration  into  New  England  had  reached 
20,000  of  pure  English  stock,  and  it  is  estimated  that  there  was  one 
person  of  higher  education  for  every  40  families.  The  proportion 
for  Massachusetts  Bay  was  even  larger  than  the  general  average  for 
New  England.  This  unusually  large  proportion  of  educated  men 
were  leaders  of  groups  of  immigrants,  some  of  whom  had  themselves 
been  landed  proprietors  in  England  and  had  enjoyed  at  least  an  ele- 
mentary education  in  the  grammar  schools  of  the  mother  country.24 

It  was  among  such  a  people,  whose  actions  were  directed  by  such 
leaders,  that  an  early  movement  for  education  might  be  expected. 
The  colleges  and  the  grammar  schools  first  established  were,  of  course, 

20  Bardeen,  op.  cit.,  50. 

31  The  standard  work  is  Tuer,  History  of  the  Horn  Book. 
82  Rec.  Co.  Mass.  Bay,  I,  183. 

n  F.  B  Dexter,  Influences  of  the  English  Universities  in  the  Development  of  New 
England,  Proc.  Mass.  Hist.  Soc,  1879-1880,  340  et  seq. 

24  See  M.  W.  Jernegan,  The  Beginnings  of  Pub.  Ed.  in  N.  E.,  Sch.  Rev.,  XXIII,  326. 


classical.  They  were  in  response  to  the  ideal  of  the  leaders  that  the 
State  was  responsible  for  the  education  of  the  most  promising  youth 
in  order  to  perpetuate  an  educated  leadership.  Colleges  were  to  train 
leaders,  and  as  the  college  curriculum  was  entirely  made  up  of  classi- 
cal studies,  classical  grammar  schools  were  necessary  to  prepare  boys 
for  college. 

But  the  colonists  of  Massachusetts  were  actuated  by  another  ideal 
which  grew  out  of  their  intensely  religious  nature  and  was  the  very 
heart  of  the  Protestant  movement  the  world  over.  This  idea,  ardent 
champions  of  which  were  Luther  and  Erasmus,  was  that  the  mass  of 
the  people  should  be  able  to  go  directly  to  the  fountain  head  of  all 
religious  authority — the  Bible  itself.25  To  this  end  the  Holy  Word 
was  brought  out  of  the  Latin  into  the  vernacular  and  the  people 
taught  to  read.  Not  all  the  people  were  to  be  educated  in  grammar 
school  and  college ;  that  was  reserved  for  the  few  destined  to  become 
leaders.  But  the  rank  and  file  of  the  people  themselves  must  be  able 
at  least  to  read  the  Bible.  In  Germany,  England,  and  America  this 
ideal  wTas  the  primary  moving  force  which  led  to  the  introduction  of 
universal  instruction  in  the  mother  tongue. 

We  have,  then,  in  the  desire  for  educated  leadership  and  in  the 
desire  for  universal  acquaintance  with  the  Scriptures  two  impelling 
forces  which  actuated  Puritan  New  England  in  her  first  educational 

Evidence  on  this  point  may  be  found  in  the  first  two  general  laws 
concerning  education  passed  by  the  General  Court  of  Massachusetts 
Bay.  The  act  of  1642  ordered  selectmen  to  take  account  of  children, 
"  especiallity  of  their  ability  to  read  &  undestand  the  principles  of 
religion  and  the  capital  lawes  of  the  country."  27  Even  more  strongly 
suggestive  is  the  language  of  the  law  of  1647,  which  made  compulsory 
both  elementary  and  secondary  education :  "  It  being  one  chiefe  piect 
(point)  of  y*  ould  deluder,  Satan,  to  keepe  men  from  the  knowledge 
of  ye  Scriptures,  as  in  formr  times,  by  keeping  ym  in  an  unknowne 
tongue."28  This  is  the  expression  of  the  second  ideal — that  the 
Scriptures,  in  the  known  tongue,  are  to  be  accessible  to  all.  "  So  in 
these  lattr  times,  by  pswading  from  ye  use  of  tongues,  yl  so  at  last  ye 

25  Luther  translated  the  Testament  in  1522  ;  the  entire  Bible  in  1534.  Monroe,  Cyc.  of 
Ed.,  4,  94. 

28  Probably  none  of  the  other  causes  designated  by  Watson  for  the  seventeenth-century 
movement  for  the  vernacular  in  England  were  operative  in  America.  Watson  assigns,  first, 
the  growth  of  a  national  spirit  after  the  Armada  ;  second,  the  fact  that  England  took  more 
pride  in  her  national  independence  of  thought,  and  especially  sought  to  give  all  people  the 
ability  to  read  the  Scriptures  ;  third,  the  feeling  that,  as  the  French  tongue  now  contained 
the  subject  matter  which  had  formerly  been  confined  to  the  Latin,  English  might  also  be 
so  utilized  ;  fourth,  the  newly  acquired  literary  possession  in  Spencer,  Shakespeare,  and 
Milton  ;  and,  finally,  the  increase  of  textbooks  in  English,  beginning  with  the  authorized 
prints  of  1545,  until  "  by  the  second  half  of  the  seventeenth  century  every  important 
department  of  knowledge  had  been  expounded  in  an  English  textbook."  Watson,  op.  cit., 

a7Rec.  Co.  Mass.  Bay,  II,  9.  » Ibid.,  203. 


true  sence  &  meaning  of  ye  originall  might  be  clouded  by  false 
glosses  of  saint  seeming  deceivers."  29  Here  is  the  expression  of  the 
ideal  for  leadership  educated  in  Latin  and  Greek.  Elementary  edu- 
cation in  the  vernacular  and  secondary  and  higher  education  in  the 
classics  were  provided  for  by  colony  law  in  Massachusetts  Bay  in 
1G4T,  only  19  years  after  the  original  settlement.  As  we  have  seen, 
the  ideals  and  motives  were  primarily  religious.  We  are  safe  in  say- 
ing not  only  that  the  American  colonists  inherited  from  England  the 
grammar  school  and  the  college,  but  that  they  endeavored  to  go  beyond 
the  mother  country  in  teaching  the  vernacular.  Vernacular  instruc- 
tion is  indissolubly  associated  with  the  Reformation,  out  of  which 
the  first  New  England  colonies  sprang,  # 



Colonial  laws  of  the  seventeenth  century  indicate  that  vernacular 
instruction  consisted  primarily  of  reading  and  secondarily  of  writing. 
In  Massachusetts  Bay  the  law  of  1642  prescribed  "  ability  to  read  & 
undestand  the  principles  of  religion ;" 80  the  law  of  1647  "  to  write 
and  read  " ; 31  that  of  1683  "  to  wrighting  schooles  ...  in  towns  of 
five  hundred  families."  32  Reading  and  writing  were  similarly  the 
content  of  vernacular  education  in  Connecticut,33  in  New  Haven,34  in 
New  York,35  in  New  Hampshire,36  in  Pennsylvania,37  in  Maryland,38 
and  in  South  Carolina.39 

That  reading  and  writing  were  the  two  branches  of  the  vernacular 
at  first  stressed  in  colonial  schools  is  further  borne  out  by  examining 
the  practice  of  various  towns.  In  1693,  Dorchester,  Mass.,  ordered 
a  sum  to  be  paid  to  Thomas  Waterhouse,  who  "  is  bound  to  teach  to 
read  it  shalbe  left  to  his  liberty  in  that  poynt  of  teaching  to  write, 
only  to  doe  what  he  can  conveniently  therein."  40  Governor  Winthrop, 
under  date  of  1645,  writes :  "  Divers  free  schools  were  erected  in  Rox- 
bury  .  .  .  and  in  Boston  .  .  .  teach  to  read  and  write  and  cipher.  .  .  . 
Other  towns  did  the  like." 41     Moreover,  after  the  general  colony 

29  Ibid.  The  early  colony  law  of  Connecticut,  1650.  also  indicates  as  a  primary  purpose 
of  education,  teaching  children  to  read  the  Scriptures.     Col.  Rec.  Conn.,  I,  555. 

30  Rec.  Co.  Mass.  Bay,  II,  9. 

31  Ibid.,  203. 

32  Ibid.,  V,  414. 
88  Col.  Rec.  Conn.,  I.  521. 
34  New  Haven  Col.  Rec.   (1653),  65,  583. 
36  Ann.  of  Albany,  IV,  15,  16. 
88Bouton,  Prov.  Papers  of  N.  H.,  Ill   (1692-1722),  718. 

87  Clews,  op.  cit,  281  and  Pa.  Col.  Rec,  I,  91. 

88  Steiner,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  Maryland,  19  ;  and  Clews,  op.  cit.,  416, 

89  Ibid.,  457. 

40  Orcott,  Nar.  Hist.  Good  Old  Dorchester,  292. 

41  Winthrop,  Hist,  of  N.  E.,  Savage,  II,  264. 

60258°— 22 2 


laws  of  Massachusetts  Bay  and  Connecticut  prescribed  reading  and 
writing,  in  1647  and  1650,  respectively,  towns  began  to  comply.  For 
example,  in  Watertown,  1650,  "  Norcroffe  was  Chosen  Schoole  Master, 
for  the  teaching  of  Children  to  Reed  to  write  &  soe  much  of  Lattin 
as  .  .  .  allso  y*  teace  such  as  desire  to  Cast  accompt."  42  Records 
indicate  that  other  towns  employed  teachers  to  teach  reading  and 
writing.43  It  appears,  therefore,  that  the  English  teaching  of  this 
period  was  exceedingly  elementary.  Reading  was  common  in  all 
schools ;  writing  was  considered  worthy  of  more  advanced  teaching  in 
some  towns,  but  usually  accompanied  reading,  taught  by  the  same 
master;  casting  accounts  and  arithmetic  began  to  appear  toward  the 
end  of  the  century  and  were  usually  classed  with  the  English  branches. 
In  addition  to  the  public  schools  so  far  considered,  there  were  many 
private  schools,  in  one  order  of  which — the  "  dame  "  schools — 44 
primary  instruction  in  the  mother  tongue  was  the  acknowledged 
purpose.  For  example,  in  Maiden,  Mass.,  Rebecca  Parker  kept  such 
a  school  for  several  years.45  Salem  voted  £15  to  "  Widow  Catherine 
Dealland,"  in  1712,  for  teaching  school  among  them.46  One  other 
typical  example  will  suffice.    In  Hartford,  Conn., 

there  were  in  those  times  private  schools  of  a  lower  grade.  At  least  one  such 
school  was  kept  in  Hartford,  that  of  Widow  Betts,  "  Goody  Betts,  the  School 
Dame,"  who  died  in  1647.  Her  pupils-were  young  children,  whom  she  taught  the 
simple  lessons  of  the  hornbook.47 

In  short,  Judd,  in  his  history  of  Hadley,  sums  up  the  general 
practice  when  he  says: 

There  were  many  cheap  private  schools  ...  in  the  seventeenth  and  eighteenth 
centuries,  kept  by  "  dames  "...  where  girls  were  instructed  to  read  and  sew, 
and  in  some  small  boys  were*,  taught  to  read  ....  Writing  was  considered  far 
less  important  ....  Probably  not  one  woman  in  a  dozen  could  write  her 
name  150  years  ago.*8 

The  instruction  in  these  dame  schools,  which  persisted  well  down 
into  the  nineteenth  century,49  consisted  of  the  simplest  elements  of 
the  vernacular.  The  textbooks  have  been  described  so  often  that  a 
mere  mention  here  will  suffice.  Books  chiefly  employed  were  the 
A  B  C,50  the  Horn  Book,51  the  New  England  Primer,52  the  Bible,53 

42  Watertown  Rec,   I,  21. 

43  Rec.  Town  of  Dedham,  III,  213;  ibid.,  IV,  3;  Rec.  Town  Plymouth,  I,  116;  Currier, 
Hist.  Newbury,  396  (quotes  town  record)  ;  Nash,  Hist.  Sketch  Weymouth,  126;  Corey,  Hist. 
Maiden,  603  ;  Felt,  op.  cit,  439  ;  Bailey,  Hist.  Andover,  519  ;  Bicknell,  Hist.  Barrington,  524. 

44  See  discussion  in  Updegraff,  Orig.  Mov.  Sch.  in  Mass.,  136-49. 

45  Corey,  op.  cit.,  439. 

46  Felt,  op.  cit.,  1,  442  ;  see  also  ibid.,  445,  9,  50. 

47  Love,   Col.   Hist.   Hartford,   254. 

48  Judd,  Hist,  of  Hadley.  56. 

"They  continued  in  Boston  at  least  until  1819,  when  free  primary  schools  were  estab- 
lished.    W.  B.  Fowle,  Barnard,  Ed.  Biog..  129. 
60  See  Eggleston,  Transit  of  Civilization,  211. 

81  Tuer,  History  of  Horn  Book. 

82  Ford,  The  New  England  Primer. 

83  Felt,  Annals  of  Salem,  I,  437. 


Catechisms,54  and  the  Psalters.85  We  find,  then,  that  before  the 
appearance  of  the  higher  branches  of  the  mother  tongue  the  colonies 
had  provided  instruction  generalty  in  reading  and  writing.  At  first 
there  was  little  spelling  as  such,  what  there  was  being  incidental  to 
reading.  Spelling  is  the  logical  outcome  of  the  ABC  method  of 
learning  to  read,  proceeding  from  the  individual  letters  to  syllables 
of  two  letters,  then  to  easy  words,  and  so  forward.  Littlefield  refers 
to  spelling  books  printed  by  Stephen  Day,  in  Cambridge,  Mass.,  as 
early  as  1645,56  and  asserts  that  Coote's  School  Master  was  extensively 
used  in  New  England.57  Other  spellers  intervened,  but  not  until  1740 
and  after,  when  "  Dilworth's  New  Guide  to  the  English  Tongue  "  was 
published  in  London,  imported,  and  reprinted  in  America  in  enor- 
mous quantities,58  could  formal  exercises  in  spelling  be  said  to  have 
become  universal. 

The  first  book  printed  in  America  which  attained  wide  popularity 
was  the  New  England  Primer,  which  was  first  published  in  the 
decade  1680-1 690.59  Ford  estimates  the  total  sale  of  this  book  at 
3,000,000  copies  between  1690  and  1840.  One  firm,  Franklin  &  Hall, 
of  Philadelphia,  sold  37,000  copies  between  1749  and  1766.60  But  the 
wide  sale  of  the  New  England  Primer  did  not  begin  until  after  1690 ; 
before  that  time  the  colony  schools  had  to  depend  very  largely  upon 
books  imported  from  England.  Bibles 61  were  the  universal  reading 
books  in  the  early  American  schools,  convenient  textbooks  because 
they  were  found  in .  almost  every  home,  logical  textbooks  because 
knowledge  of  religion  was  legally  prescribed.  For  the  very  earliest 
instruction  in  the  dame  schools,  ABC  books,  hornbooks,  and  psalters 
preceded  the  Testament  and  Bible.  In  short,  the  procedure  described 
by  John  Locke — "  the  ordinary  road  of  the  Horn  Book,  Primer, 

"  Littlefield,  Sch.  and  Sch.  Books,  105. 

65  An  excellent  description  of  the  Primer,  the  Horn  Book,  and  the  Psalter  as  used  in  the 
schools  of  Salem  before  1791  is  found  in  Felt,  op.  cit.,  T,  436-7.  Isaac  Parker,  who  was  one 
of  Dame  Rebecca  Parker's  pupils  in  Maiden,  1786,  said  that  the  only  book  he  had  was  a 
Psalter,  and  that  he  had  only  a  little  reading  and  spelling.    Corey,  op.  cit.,  648. 

"Littlefield,  op.  cit.,  118. 

"Ibid.,   119. 

68  See  Chap.  II,  p.  34. 

89  Paul  Leicester  Ford,  the  historian  of  the  New  England  Primer,  attributed  the  first 
edition  to  Benjamin  Harris,  printer,  between  the  years  1687-1690,  the  exact  date  unknown. 
Ford,  op.  cit.,  16.  Worthington  C.  Ford  has  recently  found  evidence  of  an  earlier  New 
England  Primer  printed  by  John  Gaine.  London,  entered  in  the  Stationers  Register,  under 
date  Oct.  5,  1683.     The  Nation,  Jan.  11,  1917,  46. 

60  P.  L.  Ford,  op.  cit.,  19. 

«  "  The  Bible  and  Psalter  and  the  New  England  Primer  were  the  only  reading  books  " 
(before  1770).  Burton,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  N.  H.,  1842,  585.  The  Bible  was  used  for  the 
senior  class,  John  Tbelwell's  school,  Wilmington.  Del.,  before  1775.  Powell,  Hist,  of  Ed. 
in  Del.,  42.  "  Bible  and  Catechism  for  more  than  a  century  after  settlement  of  Newbury 
were  the  only  reading  books  used  in  school."     (1634-1734.)     Carrier,  Hist.  Newbury,  408. 


Psalter,  Testament,  and  Bible " — was  the  common  practice 82  in 
America,  as  in  England.  Many  towns  prescribed  for  their  schools 
Latin  masters  and  either  ushers  or  English  masters,  together  with 
writing  masters  or  scribes.63  The  town  school  received  pupils  after 
they  had  learned  the  first  elements  in  dame  schools,  and,  in  the 
absence  of  the  latter,  themselves  gave  elementary  instruction  in  read- 
ing, writing,  and  casting  accounts.  Such  a  school,  for  example,  was 
set  up  in  Hartford,  Conn.,  in  1755.  "  This  society  judge  necessary 
that  Exclusive  of  the  Grammar  School  there  be  .  .  .  two  other  schools 
sett  up  and  supported  for  an  English  Education  only  .  .  .  for  Read- 
ing, Writing  and  Arithmetic."  64 

Naturally  we  should  not  expect  to  find  grammar  and  composition 
as  distinct  studies  in  this  early  period,  when  instruction  in  the  ver- 
nacular had  for  its  primary  purpose  preparing  children  for  the 
grammar  schools  and  for  its  secondary  purpose  teaching  them  to 
read  the  Scriptures,  with  ability  to  write  even  more  subordinated, 
and  spelling  largely,  if  not  entirely,  incidental.  How  English  gram- 
mar was  grafted  upon  these  more  elementary  branches  is  the  main 
subject  of  the  succeeding  chapter.  When  the  Latin-grammar  school 
was  proved  to  be  ill  suited  to  the  majority  of  pupils  and  when  the 
demand  increased  for  a  type  of  secondary  education  to  supplant  the 
Latin,  English  grammar  came  naturally  to  the  fore.  Instruction  in 
vernacular  grammar  could  be  imparted  by  exactly  the  same  methods 
used  in  the  teaching  of  Latin  grammar.  The  passing  of  Latin  gram- 
mar is  contemporaneous  with  the  rise  of  vernacular  grammar.  The 
older  order — reading,  writing,  spelling,  and  Latin  grammar — now 
became  reading,  writing,  spelling,  English  grammar,  all  in  the 
mother  tongue.  Such  a  procedure  would  bear  out  Eggleston's  unsup- 
ported assertion  that  "  by  slow  degrees  it  came  to  pass  that  the  Eng- 
lish studies  at  last  drove  the  sacred  Latin  from  the  free  school  founded 
at  first  for  it  alone." 65 

w  Locke,  Thoughts  Cone.  Education,  Quick,  134.  See  excellent  account  of  such  books 
used  in  Connecticut  schools.  "  The  early  schoolbooks  of  New  England  were  the  same  as 
those  of  Old  England.  The  same  books  .  .  .  were  used  in  Hadley  and  other  towns.  Such 
books  were  sold  by  John  Pynchon,  of  Springfield,  from  1656  to  1672  and  after,  and  by 
Joseph  Howley,  of  Northampton,  to  his  scholars,  except  hornbooks,  from  1674  to  1680,  and 
both  sold  many  Catechisms ;  .  .  .  neither  sold  spelling  books.  .  .  .  They  were  but 
little  used  in  the  seventeenth  century.  Samuel  Porter,  of  Hadley,  who  died  in  1722, 
sold  Primers,  Psalters,  Testaments,  and  Bibles ;  also  Catechisms,  Psalm  Books,  and  Spelling 
books,  chiefly  Dilworth's,  were  not  common  on  the  Connecticut  River  until  after  1750." 
Judd,  op.  cit.,  61. 

In  1805  H.  K.  Oliver  was  placed  at  5  years  of  age  in  the  Boston  school  of  Mr.  Hayslop. 
"  By  him  I  was  taught  my  A  B  C  D  E  F,  my  ab,  abs.  and  my  eb,  ebs."  Later  young  Oliver 
learned  elementary  reading  and  spelling  in  the  school  of  Dame  Tileson.  Barnard's  Am.  J. 
of  Ed..  XXVI,  210. 

63  Usher  provided  for  John  Douglas  (1710),  master  of  the  grammar  school  in  Charleston, 
to  teach  reading,  writing,  and  arithmetic.     Clews,  op.  cit.,  457. 

Thomas  Makin  (Meakins)  appears  to  have  kept  a  "  free  school  in  the  town  of  Phila- 
delphia "  (1693).  Makln  was  afterwards  the  usher  or  assistant  of  George  Keith,  the  first 
teacher  of  the  William  Penn  Charter  School,  1687.    Wickersham,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  Pa.,  41-43. 

•*  Col.  Rec,  II.    Love,  Col.  Hist.  Hartford,  I,  153. 

«Eggleston,  op.  cit,  236. 

Chapter  II. 



In  Chapter  I  has  been  discussed  the  background  of  vernacular 
teaching  in  the  American  colonies,  to  which  was  added  during  the 
eighteenth  century  the  formal  study  of  English  grammar.  The  pres- 
ent chapter  will  seek  to  establish  the  facts  that  a  few  schools  attempted 
English  grammar  as  such  before  1750;  that  between  1750  and  1760, 
in  the  middle  colonies  at  least,  considerable  headway  in  the  subject 
was  made  in  private  schools ;  that  after  1760  private  schools  of  both 
the  northern  and  southern  colonies  fell  into  line ;  that  by  1775  English 
grammar  was  taught  with  some  frequency  in  many  private  schools 
throughout  the  country. 


BEFORE  1775. 

In  this  section  is  gathered  from  various  sources,  especially  from 
newspaper  advertisements,66  evidence  of  instruction  in  grammar 
before  1775.  This  chapter  demonstrates  that  Noah  Webster's  often- 
quoted  affirmation  that  "  English  grammar  was  not  generally  taught 
in  common  schools  "  before  the  Revolution  67  has  been  misinterpreted. 
Webster  was  right  in  saying  that  few  common  schools  gave  instruc- 
tion in  English  grammar  before  1775,  but  the  inference  usually  drawn 
from  his  statement  that  grammar  was  not  taught  at  all  is  misleading. 
The  number  of  private  schools  which  taught  the  subject  increased 
rapidly  after  1750.  Webster  evidently  was  acquainted  with  the  school 
practices  of  the  New  England  colonies,  which  are  shown  in  this  chap- 
ter apparently  to  have  lagged  behind  the  middle  colonies,  and  some- 
what behind  the  southern,  in  bringing  to  the  fore  instruction  in  all 
secondary  branches  of  English,  especially  grammar. 

In  the  New  Jersey  series  the  newspapers  cited  begin  with  1704  and 
end  with  1779.  Not  all  schools  which  were  giving  instruction  in  gram- 
mar before  the  Revolution  are  here  indicated.    Colonial  newspapers 

68  Much  of  the  data  from  colonial  newspapers  on  private  schools  cited  in  this  section  was 
made  available  through  the  courtesy  of  Prof.  Marcus  W.  Jernegan,  of  the  University  of 
Chicago.  His  extracts  have  been  supplemented  from  the  series  of  excerpts  from  colonial 
newspapers  relating  to  New  Jersey,  as  published  in  the  New  Jersey  Archives,  and  from 
sundry  other  sources,  to  which  reference  is  made  in  the  course  of  the  discussion.  How- 
ever, no  pretense  is  made  that  all  of  the  data  extant  in  such  sources  has  been  used. 

«  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  XXVI,  196. 



are  preserved  in  fragmentary  form  at  best.  Moreover,  the  data  relate 
almost  exclusively  to  private  schools,  many  of  which  may  not  have 
advertised ;  they  offer  little  or  no  bearing  upon  the  curricula  of  free 
public  schools  of  the  eighteenth  century.  The  writer  has  seen  very 
little  evidence  that  public  schools  were  offering  English  grammar 
before  1775.68  In  all  likelihood  they  were  to  some  extent,  but  no  proof 
to  that  effect  has  come  to  the  writer's  attention.  No  English  grammar 
was  offered  in  the  public  schools  of  Boston  before  1T75.69 

In  footnotes  are  presented  data  from  various  colonies.  Informa- 
tion is  distributed  as  follows :  Date  of  the  school  advertisement,  name 
of  the  schoolmaster,  extracts  (quoted  verbatim  from  the  advertise- 
ments) indicating  instruction  in  grammar  and,  finally,  the  reference 
to  the  newspaper  in  which  the  advertisement  was  published.  It  was 
customary  for  a  successful  schoolmaster,  like  Hugh  Hughes,  1767, 
and  Thomas  Byerley,  contemporary,  both  of  New  York,  to  advertise 
in  various  papers  in  succeeding  years.  With  a  few  exceptions  a 
schoolmaster's  name  appears  but  once  in  the  lists  below.  In  some 
cases,  like  that  of  David  Dove,  the  same  schoolmaster  taught  in  sev- 
eral different  schools  in  successive  periods  of  service. 

One  caution  should  be  borne  in  mind.  There  is  no  positive  evi- 
dence that  many  of  the  schools  advertised  actually  convened.  Fre- 
quently a  schoolmaster  "  prepares  to  open  a  school  if  given  sufficient 
encouragement,"  meaning  if  he  secured  enough  pupils  to  make  the 
project  pay.  Moreover,  it  is  quite  likely  that,  as  with  some  schools 
to-day,  the  prospectus  of  a  curriculum  for  advertising  purposes  was 
somewhat  more  pretentious  than  the  actual  school  practices  warranted. 

The  schools  here  cited  are,  with  very  few  exceptions,  located  in 
cities  of  importance,  and  schoolmasters  in  smaller  places,  in  planta- 
tion schools,  and  in  villages  throughout  each  colony  could  not,  or  did 
not,  advertise.  Hence,  schools  of  smaller  communities  may  have  been 
teaching  grammar  of  which  there  is  no  record.  This  may  be  true, 
although  a  number  of  the  schools  cited  in  the  list  below  were  in  small 
communities.  Effort  here  is  merely  to  cite  available  data  upon  which 
to  base  a  reasonably  sound  inference  as  to  when  English  grammar 
made  its  first  appearances.  Undoubtedly  it  was  a  new  subject,  pre- 
sented in  very  few  textbooks,  as  no  American  texts  in  grammar  were 
published  in  the  colonies  before  Samuel  Johnson,  of  New  York,  in 
1765,70  and  none  of  the  grammars  from  England  were  reprinted  in 
America  until  Dilworth's,  in  1747.  That  few  English  grammars 
were  imported  before  1750  is  likewise  almost  certain.71     Now  the 

•  Except  in  free  school  in  Maryland.     See  Chap.  II,  p.  30. 

69  See  discussion  of  Joseph  Ward's  school,  Chap.  II,  p.  34. 

70  See  Chap.  II,  p.  35. 

71  See  Chap.  II,  p.  33. 


newness  of  the  subject,  the  abject  ignorance  of  the  village  school- 
masters, and  the  general  absence  of  textbooks  72  make  it  appear  likely 
that  English  grammar  did  not  generally  make  its  way  into  the  pub- 
lic schools  until  some  time  after  it  was  taught  in  the  more  prosperous 
private  schools  of  the  cities.  Upon  this  basis,  then,  coupled  with  the 
fact  that  private  schools  capable  of  undertaking  grammar  estab- 
lished themselves  usually  in  cities,  credence  may  be  placed  in  the 
conclusions  reached  in  the  following  discussion.  • 

It  may  be  pointed  out  also  that  scrupulous  care  has  been  taken  to 
select  from  the  advertisements  of  more  than  500  schools  only  those 
in  which  it  is  reasonably  certain  that  a  deliberate  attempt  was  made 
to  "  teach  the  English  language  grammatically."  A  large  number  of 
schools  which  may  have  taught  grammar  were  rejected.73 

Moreover,  if  the  term  "  grammar  "  appears  in  the  advertisement, 
with  no  certain  indication  that  it  signifies  English,  the  assumption 
has  been  made  that  it  means  Latin  grammar.  Where  English 
branches  are  announced  as  the  core  of  the  curriculum,  with  no  spe- 
cific mention  of  grammar,  they  have  also  been  rejected. 


The  writer  has  seen  only  six  references  to  New  England  schools 
which  give  positive  evidence  of  teaching  English  grammar  before 
1775. 74    It  is  surprising  to  find  such  meager  evidence  of  instruction 

72  See  Chap.  II,  p.  33. 

73  A  typical  rejected  case  is  William  Cheatarns  school  in  Burlington,  N.  J.,  where,  In 
176.3,  he  taught  "  Latin.  French,  English,  Writing  and  Arithmetic."  Maryland  Gazette, 
July  11,  1763.  If  Cheatam  had  meant  reading,  writing,  and  spelling  in  the  English  part 
of  his  curriculum,  he  probably  would  have  said  so.  Large  numbers  of  advertisements  use 
these  terms  for  English  branches. 

Reliable  evidence  that  the  term  "  English  "  in  some  advertisements,  at  least,  included 
grammatical  treatment  is  found  in  the  fact  that  Franklin's  Academy,  in  which  it  is  cer- 
tain that  grammatical  instruction  was  given  (see  Chap.  Ill,  p.  44),  announces  only 
"  Wherein  youth  shall  be  taught  the  Latin,  Greek,  English,  French,  and  German 
languages."     Pt.  G.,  Dec.  11,  1750. 

Furthermore,  schools  and  schoolmasters'  advertising  as  "  capable  of  teaching  gram- 
mar," "  giving  instruction  in  grammar."  "  giving  instruction  in  the  English  language," 
and  the  like,  have  been  rejected.     Md.  G.,  Aug.  20,  1752  ;  ibid.,  Dec.  13,  1764. 

74 1766,  John  Griffith,  Boston,  "  Continues  to  teach  English  Grammar."  Boston  Gazette, 
Sept.  20,  also  Boston  Post  Boy,  Sept.  22. 

1766,  Richard  Pateshall,  Boston,  "  English  with  propriety  according  to  the  Rules  of 
Grammar."     B.  G..   Sept.  15  ;  ibid.,  Sept.  28. 

1769.  Joseph  Ward,  Boston,  "  Understanding  the  English  Grammar."  Boston  Chronicle, 
Apr.  20.  "  The  last  two  years  of  my  school  life  (between  1765  and  1770),  nobody  taught 
English  grammar  (in  Boston)  but  Col.  Ward,  who  was  self-taught,  and  set  up  a  school  in 
Boston  ;  our  class  studied  Lowth  in  college."  Memorandum  of  an  Eminent  Clergyman, 
C.  S.  J.   (1850),  311. 

1771,  Theodore  Foster,  Providence,  R.  I.,  "  English  Grammar  by  Rule."  Providence 
Gazette,  June  8. 

1772,  Joseph  Ward,  Boston,  "  English  Grammar  School  is  now  Open."  "  Those  who 
incline  to  learn  the  English  Grammar."     B.  G.,  Oct.  25. 

1773,  Wm.  Payne,  Boston,  "  English  Grammar."     Ibid.,  Nov.  14. 

Felt,  writing  in  1842  of  education  in  Salem,  Mass.,  gives  a  list  of  textbooks  whose  "  use 
appears  to  have  commenced   here  and   in  other  towns  of  Massachusetts  .  .  .  about   the 


in  grammar  in  Boston.  There  may  have  been  other  schools  teaching 
grammar  during  this  period,  but  the  internal  evidence  of  the  state- 
ments of  Pateshall  and  Ward  leads  to  the  belief  that  few,  if  any,  were 
doing  so. 

Three  successive  advertisements  show  that  Pateshall  was  trans- 
forming his  school  so  as  to  provide  a  new  curriculum  in  English.  In 
1754  he  taught  "  Writing,  Arithmetic  and  the  English  and  Latin 
Tongues."  75  This  is  a  typical  private  grammar  school  of  the  period, 
according  to  the  interpretation  we  have  followed,  and  indicates  that 
no  grammar  was  taught.  In  1761  Pateshall  gives  "  Public  Notice  " 
of  a  school  "  teaching  reading  and  spelling  English  with  propriety, 
and  the  Rudiments  of  the  Latin  Tongue."  76  This  indicates  that  his 
school  was  turning  more  extensively  to  English ;  "  with  propriety  "  is 
a  phrase  commonly  used  in  association  with  teaching  grammar.  And 
in  1766  Pateshall's  school  is  announced  "  where  he  will  teach  Writing 
and  Arithmetic,  the  Latin  Tongue,  Reading  and  Spelling  English 
with  Propriety,  according  to  the  Rules  of  Grammar."  7T  Therefore 
during  the  12  years  covered  by  these  advertisements  (1754-1766)  this 
private  school  was  transformed  by  laying  emphasis  upon  English. 
The  third  advertisement,  in  1766,  clearly  indicates  that  the  school 
offered  instruction  in  grammar. 

Ward's  announcements  throw  light  on  the  absence  of  grammatical 
instruction  in  English.    In  1769  he  announces  an — 

English  Grammar  School  .  .  .  where  he  teaches  Reading,  Spelling,  Writing, 
Arithmetic,  The  English  Grammar.  .  .  .  Those  who  go  to  the  Free  Schools  and 
incline  to  learn  the  English  Grammar  he  will  teach  from  11  to  12  o'clock.  .  .  . 
The  Understanding  the  English  Grammar  is  so  necessary  for  those  who  have  not 
a  liberal  education.  .  .  .  Such  a  school  is  said  by  the  Literati  to  be  very  much 
wanted  in  this  town.78 

The  foregoing  is  one  of  the  earliest  uses  of  the  name  "  English 
grammar  school,"  and  the  rest  of  Ward's  statement  indicates  that  the 
term  is  used  because  of  the  emphasis  on  English  grammar,  the  title 
being  derived  in  an  exactly  analogous  way  to  the  term  "  Latin  gram- 
mar school."  Here,  too,  is  evidence  that  the  free  schools  of  Boston  did 
not  include  English  grammar  in  their  curricula  and  evidence,  though 
somewhat  less  positive,  that  private  schools  did  not  generally  teach 
the  subject.    Ward  evidently  does  not  think  that  Richard  Pateshall 

particular  years  which  accompany  them.  The  reference  of  them-  as  to  time  and  place  is 
more  vague  than  desired.  But  want  of  data  .  .  .  forbid  it  to  be  otherwise.  Spelling 
books,  Dilworth's  1750;  English  grammar,  Salmon's,  Lily's,  1761.  British  grammar, 
printed' in  Boston  1784,  Lowth's,  Ash's,  Webster's,  1785."     Ann.  of  Salem,  385-6. 

This  is  the  type  of  reference  so  vague  as  to  be  of  no  value  for  our  purposes.  The  writer 
has  seen  no  other  reference  to  an  English  grammar  by  Salmon.  Lily's  was  not  an  English 
grammar.    This  and  many  similar  references  are  discarded  as  worthless. 

"Boston  News  Letter,  Dec.  26,   1754. 

78  Ibid.,  May  14,   1761. 

"B.  G.,  Sept.  15,  1766. 

T8B.  Chron.,  Apr.  20,  1769. 


(1766)  was  conducting  a  school  of  which  the  "  Literati "  approved. 
Private-school  men  appear  to  have  often  been  skeptical  of  the  pre- 
tensions of  rival  schoolmasters. 

The  announcement  of  John  Griffith,  the  first  evidence  available  of 
the  time  when  grammar  was  introduced  in  Boston,  is  highly  sugges- 
tive of  the  conclusion  we  must  reach.  He  affirms,  in  1766,  that  he 
"  continues  to  teach  English  Grammar."  How  long  before  that  date 
he  had  carried  out  this  part  of  his  program  is  uncertain.  However, 
from  the  discussion  of  successive  advertisements  of  Pateshall  and 
Ward,  considered  above,  it  is  concluded  that  they  began  their  work  in 
grammar  soon  after  1766. 

The  conclusion  reached,  then,  is  somewhat  qualified.  In  New 
England  a  few  private  schools  began  to  emphasize  English  grammar 
in  their  curricula  about  the  year  1765,  one  decade  before  the  Revolu- 
tion. John  Griffith,  Richard  Pateshall,  and  Joseph  Ward  were  lead- 
ers in  this  movement  among  the  schoolmen  of  Boston. 


According  to  the  evidence  available  upon  the  numerous  attempts 
to  teach  declamation,  oratory,  and  grammar,  the  middle  colonies  show 
a  much  more  marked  tendency  to  stress  English  than  did  New 
England.  New  York,  New  Jersey,  and  Pennsylvania  seem  to  have 
been  at  least  a  decade  in  advance  of  their  sister  colonies  to  the  north. 
The  evidence  of  schools  "  teaching  English  Grammatically  "  in  these 
three  colonies  includes  39.  In  New  York  at  least  12  schools,  the  first 
somewhat  doubtful,  were  teaching  grammar  before  1775.79 

79 1751,  Garrett  Noel,  New  York,  "Reading,  writing,  arithmetic,  grammar.".  New  York 
Gazette  revived  in  the  Weekly  Post  Boy,  Sept.  2. 

1753,  John  Lewis,  New  York,  "  Speaking,  reading,  spelling  and  writing  English  accord- 
ing to  English  Grammar."     Ibid.,  June  4. 

1761,  Elizabeth  Wilcocks,  New  York,  "  With  the  Whole  English  Grammar."  New 
York   Mercury,  Aug.   31. 

1761,  W.  Rudge,  Newtown,  "  Writing,  Arith.,  Grammar,  Bookkeeping."    Ibid.,  June  15. 

1763,  Wm.  Jones,  New  York,  "  English  Language  by  Grammatical  Rules."    Ibid.,  Apr.  25. 

1763,  Sam.  Giles,  New  York,  "  Desire  to  Learn  the  English  Grammar  and  write  their 
Mother  Tongue."     N.  Y.  M.  and  W.  P.  B.,  Apr.  21. 

1766,  ,  New  York,  "  The  English  Grammar  Rationally  taught."     Ibid.,  June  5. 

1771,  Thomas  Ulrich,  New  York,  "  English  Language  Grammatically."  N.  Y.  G.  and 
W.  M.,  Dec.  31. 

1771,   Hugh  Hughes,  New  York,  "  English  Language  Grammatically."     Ibid.,   Dec.  30. 

1773,  Thomas  Byeiiey,  New  York,  "  Scholars  interested  in  the  grammatical  institutes." 
Ibid.,   Aug.   23. 

1774,  John  Cobb,  New  York,  "  English  Grammar."     N.  Y.  J.  or  Gen.  Ad.,  June  1. 

1775,  John  Cobb,  Flatbush,  "  Principles  of  English  Grammar,"  N.  Y.  G.  arid  W.  M., 
July  4. 

Kemp,  speaking  of  English  grammar  in  the  charity  schools  of  the  city  of  New  York, 
says  :  "  Mr.  Ball  added  English  grammar  to  the  program  .  .  .  when  he  succeeded  Mr. 
Hildreth.  ...  It  is  the  only  instance  of  it  to  be  found  save  the  special  instruction  in  it 
which  Forster  introduced  for  a  while."  Sup.  Sch.  in  Col.  N.  Y.,  by  S.  P.  G.,  265. 
Hildreth  retired  in  1777.  Ibid.,  115.  Forster  was  master  in  West  Chester  Parish  from 
1717  to  1745.  Ibid.,  153.  It  it  is  true  that  the  latter  was  giving  special  instruction  in 
English  grammar  before  1745,  he  deserves  to  be  classed  as  one  of  the  very  earliest  in 


Noel's  case  is  cited  as  doubtful  because  it  does  not  specifically  indi- 
cate instruction  in  grammar.  The  remainder  of  his  announcement 
indicates  an  elementary  program  with  no  mention  of  Latin;  this 
seems  to  suggest  that  the  ''  grammar  "  of  his  advertisement  means 
English  grammar.  The  first  undoubted  case  is  Lewis's  school,  opened 
in  1753  for  "  speaking,  reading,  spelling  and  writing  English  accord- 
ing to  English  Grammar."  80 


In  the  New  .Jersey  series  between  1704  and  1750  there  appear  to  be 
only  six  references  to  schools,  all  of  which  are  advertisements  for 
teachers.  Three  of  these  indicate  that  the  subject  matter  the  master 
is  desired  to  teach  is  the  elementary  curriculum  of  the  ordinary  town 
school,  namely,  reading,  writing,  arithmetic,  ciphering,  spelling,  and 
good  behavior.  References  to  12  schools  teaching  grammar  appear 
after  1850.81 

Two  schools,  1751  and  1753,  while  they  do  not  specify  English 
grammar,  point  strongly  in  that  direction.  Bartholemew  Rowley,  of 
Burlington,  "  Professes  to  teach  the  Latin  and  English  Grammar."  82 
Probably  this  refers  to  a  Latin  grammar,  with  accidence  explained  in 
English,  after  the  order  of  Lily's  or  Adam's  grammar.83  Neverthe- 
less, the  very  fact  that  Latin  is  so  advertised  indicates  a  tendency 
toward  the  grammar  of  the  vernacular. 

In  1753  a  lo.ttery  for  an  "  English  and  Grammar-school  "  is  pro- 
moted in  Trenton  "  for  raising  225  pieces  of  eight  toward  building  a 
house  to  accommodate  an  English  and  grammar-school  and  paying  a 
master."  84  To  be  noted  here  is  the  slight  distinction  between  an 
English  curriculum  and  a  grammar  curriculum  in  the  same  school. 

80  N.  Y.  G.  Rev.  in  W.  P.  B.,  June  4,  1753. 

81 1751,  Bartholemew  Rowley,  Burlington,  "  Latin  and  English  Grammar."  Pa.  G., 
Sept.   19  ;    also  Sept.  26. 

1753, ,  Trenton,  "  English  and  Grammar-school."     Ibid.,  Apr.  26. 

1762,  Cather  Robert,  Elizabeth  Town,  "  English  Tongue  Taught  as  a  Language."  Pa. 
J.,  Apr.  1,  also  N.  Y.  M.,  Jan.  18. 

1763,  S.  Finley,  Princeton,  "  English  Language  Grammatically."     Ibid.,  Nov.  10. 

1764,  John  Reid,  Trenton,  "  English  Grammar,  Reading,  Grammatically."  Pa.  G., 
Sept.  13. 

1764, ,  Moores  Town,  "Wanted  a  schoolmaster  to  teach   the  English   language 

grammatically."     Ibid.,  Aug.  3. 

1764,  Joseph  Periam,  Princetown,  "  English  Language  grammatically."     Pa.  J.,  May  31. 

1769,  J.  Witherspoon,  Princeton,  "  Remarks  on  the  grammar  and  spelling  of  the  Eng- 
lish Tongue."     Ibid.,  Mar.  2. 

1769,  Princeton  College,  Princeton,  "  Scholars  desiring  admission  should  be  well 
acquainted  with  Rending  English  with  propriety,  spelling  the  English  language,  and 
writing  it  without  grammatical  errors."     N.  Y.  J.  and  W.  M.,  May  1. 

1771,  Grammar  School,  Queen's  College.  "  Mr.  Frederick  Frelinghousen  .  .  .  teach 
the  English  Language  grammatically."     N.  Y.  J.  or  Gen.  Ad.,  Oct.  24. 

1771,  James  Conn,  Elizabeth  Town,  "  Teach  English  Grammar."  N.  Y.  G.  or  W.  P.  B., 
Oct.  21. 

1775,  Newark  Academy,  Newark,  "  English  Language."     N.  Y.  G.  and  W.  M.,  Mar.  27. 

82  Pa.  G.,  Sept.  19,  1751 ;  N.  J.  Arc,  XIX,  99. 

83  See   Appendix   B. 

84  Pa.  G.,  Apr.  26,  1753;  N.  J.  Arc,  XIX,  245. 


The  step  to  an  English-grammar  school  is  easy  and  natural  and 
throws  light  upon  the  shifting  of  emphasis  from  the  Latin  grammar 
to  English  grammar  in  the  last  quarter  of  the  century. 

Not  until  1762,  when  Robert  Cather,  of  Elizabeth  Town,  East 
New  Jersey,  opened  a  boarding  school,  do  we  have  an  undoubted  case 
in  point.    Cather  speaks  in  no  doubtful  terms : 

As  also,  Boys  to  be  instructed  in  the  Beauty  and  Propriety  of  the  English 
Tongue,  which  shall  be  taught  as  a  Language;  the  best  English  Authors  shall 
be  read  &  explain'd;  the  Art  Rhetoric  or  Oratory,  shall  be  taught  with  Care 
and  Exactness ;  Specimens  of  the  Boys'  Proficiency  therein  shall  be  given  every 
Quarter.  .  .  .  It's  hoped  the  undertaking  will  meet  with  due  encouragement 
especially  from  such  who  know  the  importance  of  a  Proper  English  Education.85 

Significant  is  the  fact  that  S.  Finley,  president  of  the  college  in 
Princeton,  is  second  on  the  list,  announcing  that  in  the  English  school 
connected  with  the  college  "  is  proposed  to  be  taught  the  English 
Language  grammatically,  and  that  Boys,  when  found  capable,  be 
exercised  in  Compositions,  as  well  as  in  pronouncing  Orations  pub- 
lically."  86  The  teacher  in  this  academy  was  Joseph  Periam,  a  young 
graduate  of  the  college,  who,  at  the  commencement  of  1762,  "  to  relax 
the  attention  of  the  audience,"  delivered  "  an  English  Oration  on 
Politeness,  which  gave  universal  satisfaction  for  the  justness  of  the 
sentiments,  the  elegance  of  the  composition,  and  the  propriety  with 
which  it  was  delivered."  8T 

Here  is  an  eighteenth-century  college,  whose  curriculum  was  very 
largely  classical,  announcing  an  English  school  with  English  gram- 
mar as  its  central  study.  The  academy  is  "An  Appendage  "  of  New 
Jersey  College,  according  to  the  announcement.  This  fact  makes  it 
unlikely  that  the  academy  was  a  private  venture.  We  are  led  to  con- 
clude that  the  president,  for  popularity  in  advertising,88  stresses  Eng- 
lish. The  Philadelphia  Academy,  afterward  the  University  of  Penn- 
sylvania, a  near  rival,  was  doing  so  very  successfully  in  this  decade.89 

The  Moores  Town  advertisement,  in  1764,  throws  an  amusing  light 
upon  the  relative  place  of  the  vernacular  and  the  classics.  The  adver- 
tisement reads :  "  Wanted,  a  schoolmaster,  to  teach  the  English  lan- 
guage grammatically,  write  a  genteel  hand,  Arithmetic,  and  the  useful 
branches  of  Mathematics  " ;  then  it  adds,  u  and  if  he  could  teach  the 
Latin,  it  would  be  more  agreeable  to  some  of  his  Employers.  .  .  .  "  90 

86  Pa.  J.,  Apr.  1,  1762  ;  N.  J.  Arc,  XXIV,  21  ;  also  N.  Y.  M.,  Jan.  18,  1762. 

This  much  resembles  the  plan  of  Franklin's  English  Academy,  1750,  and  is  cited  in  a 
later  chapter  as  evidence  of  the  supreme  influence  of  Franklin's  experiment  with  the 
English  curriculum.     See  Chap.  Ill,  p.  44. 

80  Ibid.,  Nov.   10,  1763,  N.  J.  Arc,  XXIV,  266. 

87  Pa.  G.,  Oct.  21,  1762.     Quoted,  MacLean,  Hist,  of  Col.  of  N.  J.,  I,  154. 

88  In  1762  the  profits  from  the  grammar  school  connected  with  the  college  were  added  to 
President  Finley's  salary.  This,  and  the  presence  of  young  Periam,  may  have  been  the 
cause  of  the  new  emphasis  on  English.     MacLean,  op.  cit.,  355. 

89  See  Chap.  Ill,  p.  46. 

80  Pa.   G.,   Aug.    2,   1764. 



Evidently  a  minority  of  this  Moores  Town  committee  still  clung 
the  Latin,  but  the  majority,  making  courteous  allusions  to  their  col- 
leagues, insist  upon  the  primary  importance  of  the  mother  tongue, 
with  English  grammar  as  the  basis. 

Differences  of  opinion  in  regard  to  the  new  subject  did  not  trouble 
the  school  committees  alone.  That  the  school  officers  often  reflected 
the  conflicting  opinions  of  school  constituents  is  evidenced  by  resolu- 
tions of  the  Germantown  (Pa.)  Union  (English)  School,  March  3, 
1764.    Dove,  formerly  of  Philadelphia  Academy,  was  master. 

Whether  the  Mode  of  instruction  generally  should  be  taught  Grammatically, 
attended  with  lectures.  .  .  .  The  Board  having  deliberated  .  .  .  Resolved,  That 
the  instructions  of  the  youth  in  the  Languages  Grammatically,  and  with  Suitable 
lectures  at  the  same  time  .  .  .  will  undoubtedly  tend  to  the  most  effectual 
Advancement  of  the  Knowledge  of  the  Scholars.  .  .  .  But  the  Board  is  never- 
theless of  the  opinion,  that  every  parent  and  guardian  should  have  in  his  election 
to  direct  whether  his  child  or  ward  shall  be  taught  in  the  above  manner,  or  in 
the  usual  mode  taught  in  common  schools.  .  .  .  Many  parents  and  guardians 
may  not  incline  to  have  their  children  or  wards  taught  in  any  other  manner 
than  what  has  been  hitherto  practiced  in  this  school.  The  .  .  .  English  Master 
.  .  .  shall  be  obliged  himself  to  hear  each  scholar  three  times  a  week,  who  is 
taught  reading,  writing  and  arithmetic,  in  the  said  common  mode.91 

The  suggestion  is  that  Dove's  new  "  English  Language  Grammati- 
cally "  methods  were  not  entirely  popular.  This  resolution  is  also 
indicative  of  what  "  the  usual  mode  in  the  school  "  was.  The  school 
committee  orders  that  the  English  master  shall  "  hear  "  the  scholar ; 
that  is,  hear  him  recite  the  lessons  which  he  has  memorized  from  the 

In  many  of  these  eighteenth-century  communities  with  their  highly 
emphasized  democracy  this  dual  struggle  among  school  patrons  may 
have  taken  place.  In  Moores  Town  part  of  the  public  clung  tena- 
ciously to  the  Latin  and  the  old  curriculum ;  in  Germantown  part  of 
the  school  patrons  fought  innovations  in  methods  of  teaching.  Thus 
did  "  the  road  their  fathers  trod  "  diverge  from  the  path  of  progress. 
Against  just  such  traditionalism,  in  practically  every  colony,  did 
instruction  in  the  mother  tongue  have  to  fight  its  way.92 

n  Travis,  Germantown  Academy,  24-25. 

M  An  advertisement  of  an  Elizabeth  Town  school,  in  1769,  shows  that  a  writing  master 
used  what  is  almost  the  modern  method  of  teaching  composition.  To  be  sure,  the  emphasis 
is  still  on  writing  and  spelling.  However,  the  original  compositions  of  the  upper  class 
are  to  be  reviewed  and  errors  pointed  out.  In  many  of  the  advertisements  cited  in  this 
thesis  some  form  of  composition  is  added  to  the  teaching  of  grammar. 

The  teacher  is  the  same  Joseph  Periam  whom  we  saw  above  as  the  first  teacher  in  the 
English  school  of  Princeton  college.     He  is  now  resigning  to  take  this  school. 

"As  this  gentleman  is  skilled  in  penmanship,  a  particular  attention  will  be  paid,  if 
desired  by  the  parents  .  .  .  pupils  according  to  their  capacities.  .  .  .  Some  in  writing 
the  usual  copies ;  qthers  in  transcribing  .  .  .  from  approved  authors,  either  letters  to 
acquire  a  taste  for  the  epistolary  style  or  select  pieces  to  be  committed  to  memory,  which 
they  will  be  taught  to  pronounce  with  grace  and  propriety.  Those  of  riper  judgments 
will  be  required  to  write  their  own  thoughts  in  the  form  of  letters,  descriptions,  &c.  These 
transcripts  and  letters  will  be  carefully  reviewed  and  errors  pointed  out  in  such  a  manner 
as  will  be  most  likely  to  make  them  accurate  in  writing  and  spelling."  N.  Y.  G.  and 
W.  M.,  July  24,  1769  ;  N.  J.  Arc,  XXVI,  474.  It  will  be  noted  that  Franklin  also  insists 
upon  careful  criticism  of  the  pupils  by  the  English  master.    See  Chap.  Ill,  p.  44. 



Pennsylvania  appears  to  stand  ahead  of  all  her  sister  colonies  in 
championing  thorough  instruction  in  the  mother  tongue.  The  reasons 
for  this,  under  Franklin's  leadership,  are  discussed  elsewhere.93  In 
1743,  at  least  20  years  earlier  than  any  record  found  of  English  gram- 
mar in  Massachusetts  and  10  years  before  any  in  New  Jersey,  one 
Charles  Fortesque  announced : 

To  be  taught  by  Charles  Fortesque,  late  Free-School  Master  of  Chester,  at 
his  home,  in  the  alley  commonly  called  Mr.  Taylor;  the  latin  Tongue,  English 
in  a  grammatical  manner,  navigation,  surveying,  mensuration,  geography,"  etc.94 

This  school  of  Fortesque's,  with  one  other,95  are  the  only  undoubted 
cases  the  writer  has  seen  of  attempts  formally  to  teach  English  gram- 
mar in  America  before  1750. 

Next  on  the  list  is  Franklin's  English  Academy,  Philadelphia.98 
For  reasons  elaborated  in  the  succeeding  chapter  the  evidence  seems 
to  show  that  Franklin's  Academy,  because  of  its  prominence,  may  be 
said  to  mark  the  beginning  of  formal  instruction  in  English  grammar 
in  American  schools.  Due  appreciation  of  the  priority  of  Waterland 
and  Fortesque  in  obscure  schools  is  here  acknowledged. 

Of  great  significance  is  the  fact  that  at  least  eight  schools  in  Phila- 
delphia were  teaching,  or  had  been  teaching,  grammar  before  1760,97 
and  13  schools  before  1766,  when  we  are  positive  that  Griffith  and 
Pateshall  were  teaching  in  Boston.     Philadelphia  had  at  least  12 

•3  See  Chap.  Ill,  p.  43. 
MPa.    G.,   Dec.   I,    1743. 

•»  William  Waterland,  Wassamacaw,  S.  C,  1734,  see  p.  31. 
M  Pa.  G.,  Dec.  2,  1750,  quoted  in  Montgomery,  Hist,  of  TJ.  of  P.,  139. 
•T 1743,  Charles  Fortesque,  Philadelphia,  "  English  in  a  Grammatical  Manner."  Pa.  G., 
Dec.   1. 

1750,  Franklin  Academy,  Philadelphia,  "  English  Language."     Ibid.,  Dec.  2. 

1751,  Gabriel  Nesman,  Philadelphia,  "  English  by  daily  practice,  after  the  choicest  and 
correct  grammars."     Ibid.,  Jan.   1. 

1751,  David  Dove,  Philadelphia,  "  English  Grammar."     Ibid.,  Aug.  29. 

1754,  John  Jones,  Philadelphia,  "  English  as  a  Language."    Ibid.,  Oct.  24. 

1755,  Robert  Coe,  Philadelphia,  "  Teaches  reading  grammatically."     Ibid.,  Apr.  24. 

1758,  Messrs.  Dove  and  Riley,  Philadelphia.  "  English  Language,  according  to  the  most 
exact  Rules  of   Grammar."      Ibid.,   Jan.   12. 

1759,  Dove  and  Williams,  Philadelphia,  "  Grammatical  knowledge  of  their  mother  tongue 
as  it  is  laid  down  in  Greenwoods  English  Grammar."     Ibid.,  Aug.  9. 

1761,  Joseph  Garner,  Philadelphia,  "  English  Grammatically,  according  to  the  most 
modern   and  familiar  Method."     Ibid.,   July   3. 

1764,  Subscriber,  Philadelphia,  "  the  Reading,  Speaking,  etc.,  will  be  taught  gram- 
matically."    Ibid.,  Sept.  1. 

1761,  David  Dove,  Germantown,  "  English  as  a  Language."     Ibid.,  Nov.  19. 

1765,  Alexander  Power,  Philadelphia,  "  English  Grammatically."     Ibid.,  June  13. 

1766,  John  Downey,  Philadelphia,  "  English  Tongue  grammatically."  Ibid.,  June  5. 

1767,  Mary  M'Allister,  Philadelphia,  "  English  Language  with  proper  Accent  and 
Emphasis."     Ibid.,  June  4. 

1767,  Mr.  Dove,  Philadelphia,  "  Own  Language  according  to  the  exact  Rules  of  gram- 
mar."     Ibid.,    Oct.    29. 

1769,  Henry  Moore,  Potts  Town,  "  English  Language  grammatically."     Ibid.,  Sept.  28. 
1767,  Lazarus  Pine,  Philadelphia,  "  English  Language  Grammatically."     Ibid.,  Jan.  29. 
1772,  John  Hefferman,  Philadelphia,  "  Grammatical  English."    Ibid.,  Sept.  14. 


schools  teaching  grammar  before  the  first  authentic  case  we  have  seen 
in  Massachusetts  and  11  before  the  first  case  found  in  New  Jersey.  In 
comparison  with  the  South  we  shall  see  that  Pennsylvania  schools, 
with  two  exceptions,  appear  to  antedate  them  in  adding  grammar. 
These  exceptions  are  William  Waterland's  school  in  Wassamacaw, 
S.  C,  and  the  doubtful  instance  of  William  Gough's  plantation  school 
in  the  same  colony.  These  exceptions  indicate  that  there  were  in  the 
southern  colonies,  and  probably  in  all,  schools  teaching  grammar 
which  are  not  here  recorded. 


In  Maryland  the  first  record  we  have  seen — the  announcement  of 
William  Clajon  98 — has  considerable  interest.  Clajon  was  a  French- 
man who  had  immigrated  in  1754  and  under  the  patronage  of  a 
prominent  clergyman  in  Annapolis  began  teaching  French,  Latin, 
and  English  in  that  year."  He  paid  little  attention  to  English  gram- 
mar. At  least  he  did  not  at  first  advertise  it.  But  three  years  later, 
when  he  may  be  supposed  to  have  become  fairly  well  established  in  his 
profession,  he  announces: 

The  subscriber  having  by  great  application  acquired  a  reasonable  knowledge 
of  the  English  Grammar,  he  proposes  to  teach  the  same  at  the  Free  School  of 
Annapolis.  Those  Parents,  who  can  not  afford  their  children  spending  several 
years  in  the  Learning  of  Greek  and  Latin,  may,  by  this  proposal,  procure  to 
them  the  only  benefit  commonly  expected  from  these  languages,  THE  LEARN- 
ING OF  THEIR  OWN.  Besides  their  daughters  can  as  easily  enjoy  the  same 

Can  it  be  that  Clajon  had  read  the  signs  of  the  times  as  pointing  to 
an  English  education  and  had  during  his  three  years'  residence  in 
America  prepared  himself  to  teach  the  English  grammar? 1  At  any 
rate  he  voices  the  argument  which,  after  Franklin's  proposals  for  an 
English  school,  seems  to  have  seized  firm  hold  upon  an  increasing  pro- 
portion of  the  constituency  of  the  schools — Latin  of  no  practical 
benefit ;  English  a  suitable  substitute.2 

98 1757,  William  Clajon,  Annapolis,  "  Knowledge  of  English  Grammar.  .  .  .  The  Learn- 
ing of  their  Own."     Md.  G.,  Apr.  28. 

1764,  Jacob  Giles,  Mount  Pleasant,  "  The  English  Language  Grammatically."  Ibid., 
July   19. 

1765,  Joseph  Condon,  Cecil  County  Free  School,  "  English  by  Good  Methods  and  Gram- 
matically."    Pa.   G.,   Mar.    14. 

1769,  Somerset  Academy,  Somerset  County,  "  Rudiments  of  English  Grammar."  Va.  G., 
Feb.    23. 

1772,  Daniel  Melville,  Annapolis,  "  Teacher  of  a  Practical  English  Grammar."  Md.  G., 
Dec.  17. 

89  Md.   G.,   Nov.   4,    1754. 

100  Md.  G.,  Apr.  28,  1757. 

1  Col.  Joseph  Ward,  one  of  the  first  to  teach  grammar  and  geography  in  Boston,  was 
"  self-taught."     Memorandum  of  an  eminent  clergyman,  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  13,  746. 

3  See  Chap.  JJI,  p.  56. 



To  Virginia  credit  must  be  given  for  the  first  textbook  in  English 
grammar  written  by  an  American.  Hugh  Jones,  professor  of  mathe- 
matics in  William  and  Mary  College,  wrote  "A  Short  English  Gram- 
mar," published  in  England  in  1T24.3  It  seems  reasonable  to  believe 
that  while  Jones  was  teaching  in  William  and  Mary  some  attention 
to  the  subject  may  have  been  paid,  though  direct  evidence  is  lacking. 
But  this  book  was  published,  so  far  as  we  have  been  able  to  discover, 
10  years  before  any  record  of  a  school  or  schoolmaster  outlining  a 
program  which  included  grammar.  Simple  justice  therefore  awards 
Jones,  of  Virginia,  the  place  of  honor  in  point  of  time. 


To  South  Carolina  belongs  the  distinction  of  having  the  first  school 
of  which  wTe  have  seen  any  record  as  teaching  English  grammatically.4 
In  1734— 

William  Waterland  of  Wassamacaw  School  .  .  .  gives  notice  that  any  Gen- 
tleman Planter  or  others,  who  want  to  send  their  Children  to  School,  may  be 
provided  with  good  conveniency  for  boarding.  .  .  .  Writing  and  Arithmetick  in 
all  its  most  useful  Parts,  and  the  Rudiments  of  Grammar  are  taught,  but  more 
particularly  English,  of  which  great  care  is  taken,  and  by  such  methods  as  few 
Masters  care  to  take  the  Trouble  of,  being  taught  Grammatically.5 

Waterland's  school  antedates  Franklin's  in  Philadelphia  by  16  years. 
Another  school,  in  1742 — that  of  William  Gough — ought  to  be  classed 
as  doubtful. 

He  is  now  settled  entirely  at  the  Plantation  of  Mr.  James  Taylor,  and  con- 
tinues to  teach  the  several  and  most  useful  Branches  of  Learning  (in  the  Eng- 
lish Tongue)  according  to  the  London  Method,  whereby  youth  may  be  qualified 
for  Business  by  Land  or  Sea.' 

8  A  full  description  in  Meriwether,  Colonial  Curriculum,  151-3. 

4  1734,  William  Waterland,  Wassamacaw,  "  English  being  taught  grammatically."  South 
Carolina  Gazette,  Nov.  16. 

1742,  William  Gough,  Plantation  School,  "  Most  useful  branches  of  the  Mother  Tongue.** 
Ibid.,  Feb.  13. 

1755,  Beresford  County,  "  Wanted,  a  Master  to  teach  the  English  Language."  Ibid., 
Nov.  6. 

1766,  John  Emmet,  Charlestown,  "  With  the  English  Grammar,  to  explain,  parse,  and 
sketch  the  English  Tongue."     Ibid.,  Sept.  28. 

«  1766,    Andrew    D'Ellicent,    Charlestown,    "  English    Language    Grammatically."      Ibid., 
May  20. 

1767.  William  Johnson,  Charlestown,  "  Principles  of  English  Grammar."     Ibid.,  June  15. 
1769,  Alexander  Alexander,  Charlestown,   "  Together  with   the  leading  English  Gram- 
mar."    Ibid.,  Sept.  7. 

1769,  William  Watson,  Charlestown,  "  Taught  to  write  grammatically."     Ibid.,  June  29. 

1770,  James  Oliver,  Charlestown,  "  English  Grammar."     Ibid.,  Oct.  30. 

1770,  Elizabeth  Duneau,  Charlestown,  "  Grammatically  the  English  Language."  Ibid., 
May  17. 

1771,  William  Walton,  Charlestown,  "  English  Language  grammatically."     Ibid.,  Oct.  20. 

1772,  James  Thompson,  Charlestown,  "Also  grammatical  use  of  their  own."  Ibid., 
Dec.  10. 

•  S.  C.  G.,  Nov.  16,  1734. 

•  Ibid.,  Feb.  13,  1742. 



One  especially  clear-cut  statement — that  of  William  Johnson, 
Charlestown,  1767 — announces : 

As  soon  as  they  begin  to  read  and  write,  he  proposes  to  initiate  them  into  the 
principles  of  English  Grammar,  in  a  manner  much  more  easy  than  that  which 
is  generally  practiced,  and  without  much  interfering  with  the  work  of  the 

The  obvious  interpretation  is  that  grammar  is  frequently  taught  in 
a  difficult  manner,  which  interferes  with  the  work  of  the  school.  But 
the  first  part  of  Johnson's  statement  is  evidently  not  intended  to  con- 
vey that  impression.    He  prefaces  it  with  these  remarks : 

It  is  a  common,  but  too  well  grounded  a  complaint  that  a  grammatical  study 
of  our  own  language  seldom  makes  any  part  of  the  ordinary  method  of  instruct- 
ing youth  in  our  school.8 

Johnson's  first  statement,  as  interpreted  in  the  foregoing,  would  be 
grossly  inconsistent  with  the  plain  assertion  of  his  prefatory  remarks. 
In  short,  Johnson's  testimony  bears  out  the  conclusion  reached  in  this 
section,  that  grammatical  instruction  in  English  before  1750  was^ 
taught  only  in  an  occasional  school. 


We  have  seen'recorded  two  schools  in  Georgia  as  teaching  grammar 
before  1775.9 


A  number  of  private  schools  gave  instruction  in  English  grammar 
before  the  Revolution.  The  three-score  schools  which  we  have  named 
include  not  more  than  one- tenth  of  the  advertisements  ♦  of  schools 
available  for  examination;  about  one  private  school  in  10  for  the 
entire  50  years  (1725-1775)  seems  to  have  been  turning  in  the  direc- 
tion of  grammar.  However,  the  showing  for  the  subject  is  better  than 
at  first  appears,  for  the  advertisements  cover  many  schools  wThich 
would  not  have  been  found  teaching  grammar  even  a  half  century 
later,  when  English  grammar  had  come  into  its  own  in  the  curriculum. 
Only  an  occasional  private  school  of  the  secondary  grade  taught  Eng- 
lish grammar  in  the  American  colonies  between  1750  and  1775. 

There  is  evidence  of  only  two  schools — Waterland's  in  South  Caro- 
lina in  1734  and  Fortesque's  in  Philadelphia  in  1743 — which  were 
without  question  teaching  the  subject  before  1750.  No  further  infor- 
mation is  available  concerning  the  masters  of  these  schools.  This 
excludes  the  possibility  that,  under  the  influence  of  Hugh  Jones, 

TIbid.,  June  15,   1767. 
« Ibid. 

•  1763,  John  Portrees,  Savannah,  "  Writing  and  English  Grammar."    Ga.  G.,  June  30. 
1774,   Stephen   Biddurph,    Savannah,   "  Latin,   English,   French,   and   Celtic  Languages 
grammatically."     Ibid.,  Mar.  2. 


who  wrote  a  grammar  in  1724,  after  he  had  severed  his  relations  with 
William  and  Mary,  some  attention  may  have  been  paid  to  grammatical 
instruction  in  Virginia. 

The  decade  1750-1760  in  the  middle  colonies  marks  for  America 
the  serious  beginnings  of  instruction  in  English  grammar.  The  north- 
ern and  southern  colonies  seem  to  have  commenced  one  to  two  decades 
later.  After  1750  the  middle  colonies,  under  the  leadership  of  Ben- 
jamin Franklin  in  Pennsylvania,  began  to  emphasize  the  English 
curriculum,  with  grammar  as  the  basic  study.  It  received  steadily 
increasing  attention  from  persons  starting  private  schools.  There- 
fore the  year  1750  is  taken  as  the  most  fitting  date  to  mark  the  begin- 
ning of  formal  English-grammar  teaching  in  America,  especially  as 
it  coincides  exactly  with  the  establishment  of  Franklin's  English 
School,  itself  the  progenitor  of  a  long  line  of  schools  of  the  middle 
colonies  which  based  vernacular  instruction  upon  English  grammar. 


The  first  English  grammar  by  an  American  of  which  the  writer 
has  learned  was  written  in  1724  by  Hugh  Jones,  professor  of  mathe- 
matics in  William  and  Mary  College.11  This  book  was  published  in 
London.  So  far  as  is  known  only  one  copy  is  extant,  that  in  the 
British  Museum.    No  indication  concerning  its  use  has  come  to  light. 

The  earliest  instruction  in  English  grammar  in  the  colonies  was 
conducted  either  without  textbooks  or  with  books  imported  from 
England.  "Wickersham,  speaking  for  Pennsylvania,  represents  a  con- 
dition which  was  prevalent  in  regard  to  the  importations  of  grammars : 

Whether  any  more  than  a  few  straggling  copies  of  the  old  English  grammars 
.  .  .  ever  found  their  way  from  England  to  Pennsylvania  is  unknown;  several 
of  them,  however,  were  reprinted  in  Philadelphia  .  .  .  and  may  have  been  used 
to  some  extent,  but  the  first  works  generally  taught  in  the  schools  were  the 
Philadelphia  editions  of  Webster,  Harrison,  Murray,  and  Comly,  mainly  the  last 

Evidence  is  available  that  at  least  12  grammatical  texts  of  England 
were  imported  or  reprinted  in  America  before  1784.13  Of  these, 
Thomas  Dilworth's  "A  New  Guide  to  the  English  Tongue,"  London, 
1740,  appears  to  have  been  the  most  widely  used.  Dilworth's  book 
was  primarily  a  speller,  and  probably  introduced  as  such;  but  it  con- 
tained also  a  "  Brief  but  Comprehensive  English  Grammar  "  and  a 

10 1784  is  the  date  of  Noah  Webster's  Grammar,  Part  II  of  his  Grammatical  Institutes  of 
the  English  Languages,  usually  considered  the  first  grammar  by  an  American  author. 

11  Full  description  in  Meriwether,  Colonial  Curriculum,  151-3. 

12  Wickersham,  Hist,  of  Ed.  In  Pa.,  202. 

13  Appendix  A,  p.  155. 

60258°— 22 3 


reader.  Its  popularity  was  widespread.14  Another  book,  published 
first  in  England  three  decades  earlier  than  Dilworth's,  was  also 
imported  to  a  limited  extent.  This  was  James  Greenwood's  "An  Essay 
Towards  a  Practical  English  Grammar,"  London,  1711.  Barnard 
gives  the  date  of  the  edition  probably  best  known  in  the 
colonies  as  1753.15  The  book  of  James  Harris — "  Hermes,  or  a 
Philosophical  Inquiry  Concerning  Grammar,"  London,  1751,  which 
Wickersham  says  was  reprinted  in  Philadelphia  16  and  reached  its 
seventh  edition  in  1825  17 — was  influential  in  shaping  grammars  used 
in  America.  A.  Fisher's  "  Practical  New  Grammar,"  London,  1763, 
reached  its  twenty-eighth  edition  in  America  by  1795.18  Goold  Brown 
used  a  "  New  Edition,  Enlarged,  Improved,  and  Corrected,"  1800.19 

One  of  the  most  popular  grammars  imported  and  printed  here  was 
"  The  British  Grammar,"  anonymous,  London,  1760.  An  early  stu- 
dent of  the  history  of  grammar  in  America  asserts  that  it  was  prob- 
ably the  first  English  grammar  reprinted  on  this  side  of  the  Atlantic.20 
This  is  an  error.  Lowth  was  reprinted  in  1775 ; 21  the  first  reprint  of 
Dilworth's  was  1747,22  while  "  The  British  Grammar "  was  first 
reprinted  in  Boston,  1784.23 

If  Dilworth's  "  New  Guide  "  was  the  most  extensively  used,  it  was 
because  the  book  was  primarily  a  speller,  grammar,  and  reader  com- 
bined. The  text,  considered  strictly  as  a  grammar,  of  most  extensive 
use  and  influence  in  the  colonies  was  Lowth 's  "A  Short  Introduction 
to  English  Grammar,"  London,  1758.  Harvard  used  Lowth  as  early 
as  1774  24  and  as  late  as  1841. 25  Meanwhile  other  colleges  introduced 
it  into  their  curricula.26  Wells  says  that  Lowth  was  "  first  published 
anonymously  .  .  .  soon  came  into  general  notice,  and  has  probably 
exerted  more  influence  than  any  other  treatise  in  forming  the  char- 
acter of  the  numerous  grammars  that  have  since  been  used  as  school 
books,  in  Great  Britain  and  the  United  States."     Lowth's  greatest 

14  The  Grst  American  reprint  seems  to  have  been  the  edition  of  Franklin,  in  Philadelphia. 
3  747.  Evans,  Am.  Bibl.,  3,  76.  Evans  omitted  the  1747  edition  from  his  second  volume. 
He  lists  f*C  different  American  editions  between  1747  and  1792.  Ten  thousand  copies 
printed  in  one  edition  seems  to  have  been  a  popular  number.     Ibid.,  4,  314  and  7,  111. 

The  Lancaster,  Pa.,  edition  of  1778  omitted  the  grammar  until  (as  the  publication  said) 
"  peace  and  commerce  shall  again  smile  on  us,  and  when  in  spite  of  Britain  and  a  certain 
one  named  Beelzebub,  we  shall  have  paper  and  books  of  every  kind  in  abundance."  Wick 
ersham,  op.  cit.,  198. 

"Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  XIII,  639. 

16  Wickersham,  op.  cit.,  202. 

"C.  S.  J.,  3,  209. 

18  Barnard,  op.  cit,  13,  633. 

10  Brown,  Gram,  of  Gram.,  XV. 

20  Wallis  (W.  B.  Fowle),  C.  S.  J.,  12,  20. 

21  Evans,  op.  cit.,  5,  150. 

22  Ibid.,  3,  76  footnote. 

23  Ibid.,  6,  274. 

24  C.  S.  J.,  11  (1849),  257. 

25  Ibid.,  3   (1841),  230. 

26  Discussion  in  the  following  section. 


significance  is  that  most  of  his  rules  have  been  copied  verbatim  by 
Lindley  Murray  and  again  from  him  by  many  compilers  of  lesser 
note.27  Webster  says  that  "  Wallis  and  Lowth  are  the  two  ablest 
writers  on  English  Grammar."  28  Lowth  enjoyed  numerous  American 

One  other  important  book  was  Ash's  "  Grammatical  Institutes," 
first  published  in  London,  1763,  and  enjoying  four  other  editions  there 
before  1795.30  Its  subtitle  was  "An  Easy  Introduction  to  Dr. 
Lowth's  English  Grammar  "  and  was  based  on  Lowth 's  seventh  Lon- 
don edition.31  Ash  was  reprinted  and  sold  in  New  York  in  1774  by 
High  Gain.32 

In  addition  to  the  books  named,  there  were  numerous  other  English 
publications  which  contained  grammars,  not  strictly  textbooks,  cir- 
culating in  America  before  1784.  In  this  list  are  McTurner's  "  Spell- 
ing Book  and  English  Grammar,"  Fenning's  Dictionary,  Buchanan's 
Dictionary,  Johnson's  Dictionary,  all  of  which  contained  brief  gram- 
mars. In  the  advertisements  of  colonial  booksellers  we  see  indications 
that  other  grammars  of  which  we  have  found  no  definite  trace  made 
their  way  from  England.  Numerous  advertisements  announce 
"  Spelling  Books  by  the  dozen,"  "  English  Grammars,"  etc.33  This 
is  indicative  of  the  conclusion  that  must  be  reached:  Before  gram- 
mars were  widely  printed  in  America  the  circulation  of  popular  books 
imported  was  quite  common.  Keprints  began  to  appear  frequently 
after  1747. 

Finally,  more  interesting,  if  not  so  significant,  is  the  fact  that 
several  other  Americans  besides  Hugh  Jones  antedated  Noah  Webster 
in  publishing  English  grammars.  In  1765  Samuel  Johnson,  the  first 
president  of  King's  College,  published  in  New  York  "  The  First  Easy 
Rudiments  of  Grammar,  applied  to  the  English  Tongue.  By  one 
who  is  extremely  desirous  to  promote  good  literature  in  America,  and 
especially  a  right  English  education.  For  the  use  of  Schools." 34 
This  volume  of  36  pages  appears  to  have  been  the  first  grammar  pre- 
pared by  an  American  and  published  in  America.    It  was  printed  by 

17  Wells,  C.  S.  J.,  3,  230.  »  Ibid. 

29  First  reprint,  1775,  Philadelphia,  Evans,  op.  cit.,  5,  150. 

80  Brown,  Gram,  of  Gram.,  XII. 

81  Evans,  op.  cit.,  5,  5. 
3*  Ibid. 

83  Pa.  G.,  Jan.  6,  1742;  S.  C.  G.,  Oct.  3,  1748;  B.  N.  L.,  Sept.  5,  1750,  etc. 

34  Evans,  op.  cit.,  4,  18. 

Johnson  wrote  his  English  grammar  for  use  in  the  preliminary  education  of  his  two 
grandsons.  He  prepared  also  a  Hebrew  grammar  to  go  side  by  side  with  his  English 
grammar,  the  structure  of  the  two  languages  bearing  in  his  view  a  close  resemblance.  He 
said  :  "I  am  still  pursuing  the  same  design  of  promoting  the  study  of  the  Hebrew  Scrip- 
tures .  .  .  and  I  think  of  no  better  project  than  to  get  the  grammar  of  it  studied  with  a 
grammar  of  our  own  excellent  language  as  the  best  introduction  to  what  is  called  a  liberal 
education.  .  .  .     Beardsley,  Life  and  Correspondence  of  Samuel  Johnson.  306-7. 

Beardsley  affirms  that  Johnson's  book  was  printed  by  W.  Paden,  London,  in  1767,  and 
four  years  afterwards  a  second  edition  was  published  by  the  same  printer.  Ibid.,  307, 


J.  Holt,  near  Exchange,  in  Broad  Street,  New  York.35  Johnson  was 
followed,  in  1773,  by  Thomas  Byerley,  also  a  schoolmaster  of  New 
York,  who  published  "A  Plain  and  Easy  Introduction  to  English 
Grammar."  36  Byerley  has  an  elaborate  description  of  the  methods 
used  in  his  school,  a  discussion  of  which  appears  in  a  later  chapter.37 

In  1779  Abel  Curtis,  of  Dartmouth  College,  published  "A  Compend 
of  English  Grammar:  Being  an  Attempt  to  point  out  the  Funda- 
mental Principles  of  the  English  Language."  38 

We  have,  then,  the  undoubted  cases  of  Jones,  1724 ;  Johnson,  1765 ; 
Byerley,  1773 ;  and  Curtis,  1779,  to  cite  as  American  writers  publishing 
grammars  before  Noah  Webster  in  1784.  We  conclude  that  Hugh 
Jones  was  the  first  American  author  to  write  a  textbook  in  English 
grammar;  that  Samuel  Johnson  was  the  first  to  write  a  grammar 
published  in  America ;  that  the  books  of  these  two  men,  together  with 
those  of  Byerley  and  Curtis,  precede  Webster's  book  in  point  of  time. 
The  latter  was,  then,  the  author  of  at  least  the  fifth,  not  the  first,  Eng- 
lish grammar  by  an  American.  To  be  sure,  the  writer  has  seen  no  evi- 
dence that  any  of  the  earlier  books  were  widely  used  in  the  schools  or 
were  influential  in  directing  the  new  tendency  in  America  to  stress 
grammatical  instruction.  In  one  sense  Webster  retains  the  place 
usually  assigned  him  as  the  first  American  grammarian.  He  yields  to 
the  others  only  in  the  matter  of  chronological  priority. 



When  King's  College  was  founded,  President  Samuel  Johnson,  a 
Yale  graduate,  made  this  significant  announcement :  "  It  is  the  fur- 
ther Design  of  this  college,  to  instruct  and  perfect  the  Youth  in  the 
Learned  Languages,  and  in  the  arts  of  reasoning  exactly,  of  ivriting 
correctly,  and  speaking  eloquently."  39  This  was  stated  in  the  first 
public  prospectus  of  the  college  work.40  To  Johnson  41  has  been 
assigned  the  honor  of  being  the  first  American  author  of  a  textbook  in 
English  grammar  published  on  this  side  of  the  Atlantic.  His  book 
was  entitled  "An  English  Grammar.  The  First  Easy  Rudiments  of 
Grammar  applied  to  the  English  Tongue.  By  one  who  is  extremely 
desirous  to  promote  good  literature  in  America,  and  especially  a  Right 
English  Education.  For  the  use  of  Schools."  42  This  book  was  pub- 
lished in  1765,  more  than  a  decade  after  he  became  president  of  King's 

85  Ibid. 

86  Evans,  op.  cit.,  4,  353. 
37  See  Chap.  V,  p.  129. 

88  Printed  by  Spooner,  Dresden  (Dartmouth  College),  Evans,  6,  10. 

88  Pine,  Columbia  Col.  Charters  and  Acts,  70. 

40  N.  Y.  G.  or  W.  P.  B.,  July  3,  1754. 

«■  See  Chap.  II,  p.  35. 

42  Evans,  Am.  Bibl.,  4,  18, 


College.  Obviously  the  book  was  not  of  college  grade.  His  early 
authorship  is  cited  here  to  indicate  the  genesis  of  the  Columbia  plan 
of  education  promulgated  by  his  son,  William  Samuel  Johnson, 
president  of  Columbia  in  1785. 

In  this  plan  emphasis  was  laid  upon  English  that  was  quite  in 
keeping  with  the  ideal  set  forth  at  the  founding  by  the  father  and 
with  the  earlier  interests  of  the  son.  The  plan  has  several  features 
which,  taken  all  in  all,  make  it  an  innovation  in  college  curricula.  We 
concern  ourselves  here  only  with  the  striking  emphasis  on  instruction 
in  the  vernacular.43 

A  few  years  later,  1792,  a  pamphlet  "  Present  State  of  Learning  in 
Columbia  College  "  shows  that  the  English  part  of  the  1785  program 
was  thoroughly  carried  out.44  In  fine,  the  King's  College  and 
Columbia  curricula  show  a  steady  growth  in  popularity  of  instruction 
in  the  mother  tongue.  This  is  in  startling  contrast  to  the  "  starving," 
as  Franklin  called  it,  of  English  in  the  academy  in  which  the  Uni- 
versity of  Pennsylvania  had  its  beginnings.45 

The  experience  of  both  Pennsylvania  and  Harvard  shows  that,  as 
in  the  case  of  Columbia,  the  first  impetus  in  colleges  toward  instruc- 
tion in  the  mother  tongue  came  through  the  desire  for  better  elocution 
and  oratory.  In  Harvard,  disputations,  heretofore  carried  on  in 
Latin,  after  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century  came  to  be  given 
in  the  vernacular.    President  Quincy,  after  saying  that  for  nearly  a 

"The  Plan  of  Education,  1785  : 

Freshman  Class.  English  Grammar,  together  with  the  art  of  reading  and  speaking  Eng- 
lish with  propriety  and  elegance.  Once  a  week  .  .  .  translation  out  of  Latin  into  English  ; 
.  .  .  this  to  be  considered  as  English  rather  than  a  Latin  exercise. 

Sophomore  Class.  Once  a  week  deliver  to  the  President  an  English  composition  upon  a 
subject  to  be  assigned. 

Junior  Class.  Once  a  week,  to  the  President,  an  English  or  Latin  composition,  upon  a 
subject  to  be  assigned,  which  compositions  are  expected  to  be  longer  and  more  correct  as 
the  students  advance. 

Senior  Class.  To  deliver  once  a  week,  an  English  or  Latin  Composition  to  the  President 
upon  a  subject  of  their  own- choosing. 

The  written  exercises  of  each  class  are  to  be  subscribed  with  the  author's  name,  and 
after  having  undergone  the  President's  criticism  are  to  be  filed  and  produced  at  the 
monthly  visitations  for  the  inspection  of  the  Regents  and  Professors.  So  many  of  each 
of  the  three  senior  classes  as  will  bring  it  to  each  student's  turn  in  a  month  are  once  a 
week  to  repeat  in  the  Hall  .  .  .  some  proper  piece  of  English  or  Latin,  which  the  President 
is  to  direct,  and  which,  at  the  monthly  visitation,  may  be  such  of  their  weekly  exercises  as 
the  President  may  think  have  most  merit. 

Plan  cited  in  full,  Snow,  Col.  Cur.  in  U.  S.,  93-6. 

**  "  The  President,  William  Samuel  Johnson,  LLD.,  is  Lecturing  in  Rhetoric  and  Belles 
Lettres,  and  instructs  the  students  in  the  Grammar  and  proper  pronunciation  of  the  Eng- 
lish Language,  on  the  plan  of  Webster's  and  Lowth's  Grammars,  and  Sheridan's  Rhetorical 
Grammar.  In  Rhetoric,  on  the  plan  of  Holme's  and  Stirling's  Rhetoric  ...  a  complete 
course  of  instruction  in  .  .  .  the  English  Language  in  particular  ;  in  the  art  of  writing  and 
speaking  it  with  propriety,  elegance  and  force." 

"  Each  student  is  obliged,  every  Saturday,  to  deliver  him  (President  Johnson)  a  com- 
position, in  which  he  corrects  the  errors  either  in  orthography,  grammar,  style  or  senti- 
ment, and  makes  the  necessary  observations  on  them  when  he  returns  the  composition  to 
the  writers."     Ibid.,  98-102. 

«  Smyth,  Life  and  Writings,  B.  Franklin,  X,  16.    See  Chap.  Ill,  p.  48. 


century  (1650-1750)  the  Harvard  curriculum  had  resisted  innova 
tions,  points  out  that  in  1754  the  overseers  raised  a  committee  "to 
project  some  new  method  to  promote  oratory."  The  result  was  a  sys- 
tem of  disputations  in  English,  apparently  a  radical  innovation.46 
But  it  was  not  until  1766  that  a  committee  of  the  board  proposes  there 
should  be  a  "  distinct  Tutor  in  elocution,  composition  in  English, 
Khetoric,  and  other  parts  of  Belles  Lettres."  47 

About  the  time  that  this  new  turn  toward  vernacular  instruction 
was  coming  in  Harvard  (1754-1766)  the  University  of  Pennsylvania 
was  being  started  in  the  Academy  and  Charity  School  of  Philadelphia 
(1750-1756).  Chapter  III  of  this  study  is  devoted  to  an  examination 
of  the  character  of  this  school  and  its  influence  in  spreading  vernacular 
education  in  secondary  schools.  The  point  to  be  anticipated  here  from 
that  discussion  is  that  good  speaking  and  good  writing  in  English 
were  the  primary  motives  lying  back  of  the  English  program,  with 
grammar  as  the  central  study.48 

That  Princeton  was  the  first  college  to  require  grammar  as  an 
entrance  requirement,  in  1819,  is  the  statement  of  Broome.49  Murray, 
in  a  study  of  the  first-mentioned  texts  in  the  College  of  New  Jersey 
(Princeton),  based  upon  catalogues  of  the  institution,  finds  Lowth's 
Grammar  first  in  1793,  and  adds  that  not  until  1840  does  grammar 
appear  in  the  catalogues  as  an  admission  requirement.50  The  state- 
ments of  Broome  and  Murray  do  not  tally  by  21  years ;  the  difference  is 
entirely  consistent  with  the  extreme  difficulty  of  assigning  definite 
dates  for  the  first  appearance  of  any  subject.  It  is  not  at  all  certain 
that  statutory  provisions  indicate  the  earliest  date.  As  a  matter  of 
fact,  both  Broome  and  Murray  are  incorrect  in  assigning  to  Princeton 
the  first  admission  requirements  in  grammar.51 

If  it  were  true  that  Princeton  was  the  first,  that  fact  would  be  con- 
sistent with  others  which  can  be  positively  stated.  That  the  year 
assigned  for  grammar  should  be  so  late  is,  however,  a  matter  of  some 
wonder.  From  the  year  1763  forward  the  College  of  New  Jersey  was 
intimately  associated  with  a  preparatory  school  called  by  President 
Finley  "  an  Appendage  "  of  the  college.  Announcement  of  the  acad- 
emy appeared  in  1763.52   In  1764  the  school  was  opened. 

"Quincy,  Hist.  Har.  Univ.,  1840,  II,  124-5. 

«  Ibid.,  498,  Resolutions  in  full. 

48  See  Chap.  Ill,  p.  43. 

48  Broome  gives  the  dates  at  which  various  new  subjects  at  the  beginning  of  the  nine- 
teenth century  were  definitely  placed  in  the  college  entrance  requirements  as  follows  :  Up 
to  1800  the  requirements  were  Latin,  Greek,  and  arithmetic.  Geography  was  added  in 
1807 ;  English  grammar,  1819 ;  algebra,  1820 ;  geometry  1844 ;  ancient  history,  1847. 
Broome  affirms  that  all  of  these  were  first  required  by  Harvard,  except  English  grammar, 
in  which  Princeton  took  the  lead,  and  adds  that  the  ambiguous  term  "  grammar  "  appears 
in  the  Williams  College  catalogue  for  1795.  A  Hist,  and  Crit.  discussion  of  Col.  Adm. 
Req.,  Columbia  Univ.  Cont,  XI,  30-62. 

■  Murray,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  N.  J.,  57,  Murray's  statement  is  "  South  English  Grammar." 
61  See  discussion  (p.  40)  of  the  requirements  of  the  University  of  North  Carolina. 

■  Pa.  J.,  Nov.  10,  1768 ;  N.  J.  Arc,  XXIV,  266. 


The  Publick  is  hereby  notified,  that  as  soon  as  a  competent  Number  of 
Scholars,  offer  themselves,  an  English  School  will  be  opened,  under  the  Inspec- 
tion of  the  President  of  the  New-Jersey  College,  as  an  Appendage  to  the  same : 
in  which  is  proposed  to  be  taught  the  English  Language  grammatically,  and 
that  the  Boys,  when  found  capable,  be  exercised  in  Compositions,  as  well  as  in 
pronouncing  Orations  publickly.63 

In  1769  another  extremely  suggestive  advertisement  of  Princeton 
appears.  President  Witherspoon  not  only  advertises  that  the  college 
course  gives  "  Remarks  in  the  Grammar  and  spelling  of  the  English 
Tongue  " 54  but  he  also  adds,  speaking  of  candidates  for  admission, 
u  Scholars  should  also  be  well  acquainted  with  .  .  .  spelling  in  Eng- 
lish Language  and  writing  it  without  grammatical  errors."  55  While, 
of  course,  this  is  not  a  definite  entrance  requirement,  with  examina- 
tion, it  is  an  indication  that  the  president  of  Princeton  as  early  as  1769 
was  pointing  the  way  to  such  a  requirement.  Parenthetically  it  may 
be  remarked  that  Witherspoon  states  almost  exactly  the  proper  test 
of  grammatical  accuracy,  the  test  to  which  colleges  did  not  officially 
arrive  until  one  hundred  years  later,  when,  in  1873,  Harvard's  new 
admission  requirements  were  formulated.  For  all  the  intervening 
time  the  entrance  test  consisted  of  examinations  in  formal  English 
grammar,  which,  for  a  large  part  of  that  century,  meant  the  slavish 
repetition  of  pages  and  pages  of  rules.56  The  point  of  present  inter- 
est, however,  is  that  in  this  statement  of  President  Witherspoon,  in 
1769,  we  see  in  embryo,  at  least,  the  college-entrance  requirement  of 
1819 ;  indeed,  that  of  the  present-day  requirements.  Princeton,  like 
Columbia  and  Pennsylvania,  had  been  in  touch  with  English  as  a 
language  study  for  nearly  25  years  before  the  Revolution. 

The  diary  of  Solomon  Droune,  of  the  class  of  1773  in  Rhode  Island 
College  (Brown),  testifies  that  he  began  the  study  of  English  gram- 
mar in  1771 :  "  Commenced  Hammond's  Algebra  and  British  Gram- 
mar in  December,"  B7  his  sophomore  year.  The  inference  is  strong 
that  his  class  was  studying  "  The  British  Grammar,"  but,  unfor- 
tunately, we  have  discovered  no  corroborating  testimony.  The  college 
laws  of  1783  show  that  in  the  sophomore  year  were  studied  Lowth's 
Vernacular  Grammar,  Rhetoric,  Ward's  Oratory,  and  Sheridan's  Lec- 
tures on  Elocution,58  and  an  extract  from  a  letter  of  the  president  the 
following  year  advises  a  Mr.  Wood,  if  he  desires  to  enter  the  sopho- 
more class,  "  to  study  with  great  attention  Lowth's  English  Grammar, 

»  Ibid.,  May  31,  1764  ;  N.  J.  Arc,  XXIV,  370. 

A  grammar  school  "  as  a  nursery  for  the  college  "  had  been  estaoilshed  under  Presi- 
dent Burr,  but  not  until  1764  was  "  it  judged  proper  that  an  English  school  should  be  also 
established  for  the  sole  intention  of  teaching  young  lads  to  write  well,  to  cipher,  and  to 
pronounce  and  read  the  English  tongue  with  accuracy  and  precision."  Order  of  trustees, 
quoted,  McLean,  op.  cit,  529. 

•*  Pa.  J.,  Mar.  2,  1769. 

w  N.  Y.  J.  or  W.  M.,  May  1,  1769. 

-  See  Chap.  V. 

,T  Quoted  by  Bronson.  Hist.  Brown  Univ.,  102. 

"  Law§  in  full,  Ibid.    508-18. 


&  Sterling's,  or  Turner's  Rhetoric  as  preparatory  to  Ward's  Oratory 
&  accustom  himself  to  compose  in  English."  59 

In  the  charter  of  Queen's  College  (which  became  Rutgers  in  1823), 
first  drafted  by  Dutch  Reformed  ministers  in  1766  and  finally  granted 
in  1770,  we  find  positive  indications  of  the  trend  of  the  time  toward 
grammatical  instruction  in  English.  It  is  especially  significant  as 
coming  from  a  body  of  men  who  might  have  been  supposed  to  favor 
a  language  other  than  English.    The  charter  provides — 

There  shall  always  be,  residing  at  or  near  the  college,  at  least  one  professor, 
or  teacher  well  versed  in  the  English  language,  elected  .  .  .  from  time  to  time, 
and  at  all  times  hereafter  grammatically  to  instruct  the  students  of  the  said 
college  in  the  knowledge  of  the  English  language;  .  .  .  provided  also  that  all 
records  shall  be  in  the  English  language  and  no  other : 60 

The  grammar  school  of  Queen's,  in  the  first  announcement  in  1771, 
advertised  that "  Mr.  Frederick  Frelinghousen  .  .  .  teaches  the  Eng- 
lish Language  grammatically."  61 

In  all  the  preceding  discussion  there  is  one  State  which  has  not 
been  mentioned — North  Carolina.  In  1794  the  University  of  North 
Carolina  was  opened  with  a  program  of  English  studies  very  far  in 
advance  of  any  college  in  the  country  before  1800.62  In  1794  the 
charges  for  tuition  were  as  follows: 

For  Reading,  Writing,  Arithmetic,  Book-keeping,  $8.00  per  annum.  For  Latin, 
Greek,  French,  English  Grammar,  Geography,  History  and  Belles  Lettres,  $12.50 
per  annum.  .  .  . 

Here  is  an  institution  starting  up  in  a  sparsely  settled  and  largely 
unlettered  frontier  district.  As  the  historian  says,  half  of  those  who 
presented  themselves  were  unprepared  for  college  classes.63  There- 
fore after  the  first  year  the  institution  was  divided  into  the  prepara- 
tory school  and  the  university  proper. 

In  1795,  according  to  the  statutes,  the  course  of  study  in  the  prepara- 
tory school  was  as  follows : 

(a)  The  English  Language,  to  be  taught  grammatically  on  the  basis  of 
Webster's  and  South's  Grammar.64  (&)  Writing  in  a  neat  and  correct  manner, 
(c)  Arithmetic,  with  the  four  first  rules,  with  the  Rule  of  Three,  (d)  Reading 
and  Pronouncing  select  passages  from  the  Purest  English  authors,  (e)  Copying 
in  a  fair  and  correct  manner  select  pages  from  the  purest  English  authors.  (/) 
The  English  Language  shall  be  regularly  continued,  it  being  considered  the 
primary  object,  and  the  other  languages  but  auxiliaries.  Any  language  except 
English  may  be  omitted  at  the  request  of  the  Parents. 

Under  the  professorships  in  the  university,  English  was  continued. 
"  Khetoric  on  the  plan  of  Sheridan,  .  .  .  The  English  Language, 
Extracts  in  Prose  and  Verse.    Scott's  Collections." 

59  Ibid.,  103. 

60  Clews,  op.  cit,  343. 

61  N.  Y.  J.  or  G.  A.,  Oct.  24,  1771. 

M  Battle.  History  of  the  Univ.  of  N.  C,  Vol.  I,  50  et  seq. 

88  Ibid.,  65.  «*  Means  Lowth's  Grammar. 


,  Here  is  a  college  which  in  1795  dares  to  proclaim  that  English  is 
"  the  primary  object,"  that  "  other  languages  are  auxiliaries,"  and  that 
"  any  language,  except  English,  may  be  omitted."  The  college  did 
not  grant  the  A.  B.  degree,  however,  except  for  Latin  and  Greek,  and 
the  historian  tells  us  that  afterwards  the  university  "  degenerated  into 
the  purely  classical  type."  But  the  important  point  is  yet  to  be  noted. 
In  1795,  when  the  English  program  for  the  academy  was  inaugurated, 
a  statute  of  admission  to  the  college  seemed  to  prescribe  English ;  it  is 
thus  cited  by  Battle : 

The  Students  who  passed  approved  examinations  on  the  studies  of  the  pre- 
paratory school  were  admitted  upon  the  general  establishment  of  the  University. 
There  was  also  an  entrance  examination  in  Latin,  but  the  candidates  were  not 
required  to  translate  English  into  Latin.85 

English  grammar,  on  the  basis  of  Lowth  and  Webster,  was  the  first 
study  of  the  preparatory  school.  A  university  statute  prescribing 
entrance  examinations  in  the  preparatory  subjects  was  passed  in  1795. 
This  appears  to  be  a  clear  case  of  an  entrance  examination  in  English 
grammar  24  years  before  1819,  the  date  which  Broome  assigns  to 
Princeton.  An  error  of  a  quarter  of  a  century  shows  how  dangerous 
it  is  to  generalize  on  data  derived  only  from  a  few  well-known 

One  further  point  as  to  the  relations  of  colleges  to  English  gram- 
mar needs  is  noted.  We  have  seen  that  Hugh  Jones,  professor  of 
mathematics  in  William  and  Mary,  published  the  first  grammar  on 
record,  written  in  America  but  printed  in  London  in  1724.  That 
book  was  called  "A  Short  English  Grammar,  An  Accidence  to  the 
English  Tongue."  The  description  of  the  contents  of  the  book  66 
seems  to  indicate  that  it  was  deficient  in  syntax  and  was  devoted 
largely  to  preparation  for  oral  work.  This,  too,  would  certainly  be 
in  keeping  with  the  early  date  at  which  it  was  published.  The  entire 
discussion  of  this  chapter  and  of  the  following  chapter  indicates  that 
grammar,  as  well  as  written  composition  and  literature,  grew  up  with 
and  possibly  out  of  declamation,  oratory,  disputations,  and  the  vari- 
ous branches  of  oral  composition.  Hugh  Jones's  "  English  Gram- 
mar "  is  in  strict  accord  with  this  hypothesis. 

Students  of  the  history  of  education  know  that  the  colleges  of 
America  have  usually  been  compelled  to  emphasize  curricula  of  a  more 
elementary  grade  in  their  early  years.  It  was  not  true  of  Harvard, 
perhaps,  because  the  founders  of  Harvard  were  the  men  who  dictated 
the  laws  of  1642  and  1647  requiring  a  fitting  school  in  every  town  of 
100  families.  Moreover,  these  schools  existed  before  the  law  of  1647. 
We  have  just  seen  Princeton  under  the  necessity  of  establishing  a 
, — B __ 

65  Battle,  History  of  the  Univ.  of  N.  C,  Vol.  I,  96. 
••Meriwether,  Col.  Cur.,  151-3. 



school  of  lower  grade  than  the  college  itself  and  that  the  new  Uni- 
versity of  North  Carolina  felt  compelled  to  do  so.  In  the  following 
chapter  we  shall  see  the  University  of  Pennsylvania  grow  from  an 
academy  and  maintain  that  academy  as  a  fitting  school  until  well 
into  the  nineteenth  century.  Western  colleges  growing  up  amid  fron- 
tier conditions  in  the  past  75  years  also  labored  under  this  necessity. 

The  fact  that  between  1775  and  1825  the  older  colleges  of  the  East 
felt  called  upon  to  give  instruction  in  the  freshman  or  sophomore 
years  in  English  grammar 6T  carries  with  it  several  inferences :  First, 
that  there  was  a  growing  interest  in  the  mother  tongue,  which  com- 
pelled colleges  established  under  the  exclusive  classical  regime  to 
enlarge  their  curricula,  and,  further,  induced  colleges  founded  in  the 
last  quarter  of  the  eighteenth  century  to  incorporate  English  as  a 
language  from  the  very  beginning;  second,  that,  as  college  students 
were  entering  without  the  ability  to  speak  and  write  grammatical 
English,  that  subject  was  not  adequately  taught  in  the  lower  schools. 
In  short,  the  attitude  of  colleges  toward  grammar  before  1800  shows 
that  there  was  need  for  the  new  subject;  that  the  call  for  it  was  posi- 
tive; that  this  must  have  been  in  order  that  the  subject  might  be 
introduced  into  the  older  institutions ;  and  that  the  lower  schools  were 
not  meeting  the  need. 

"Princeton  used  Lowth  in  1793.     Snow,  op.   cit.,  109.     Yale  used   Lowth,   1774-1784, 
Webster,  1792,  and  Murray  in  succession  before  1800.     Ibid.,  79,  91,  128.     The  College 
Rhode  Island  used  the  same  texts  in  the  same  order.    Ibid.,  109,  111,  113. 

Chapter  III. 

So  customary  is  it  to  look  to  Massachusetts,  and  New  England  gen- 
erally, for  pioneer  movements  in  American  colonial  education  that  it 
is  refreshing  to  find  other  colonies  taking  lead  in  giving  to  the  ver- 
nacular a  prominent  place  in  the  curriculum.  We  have  seen  that  the 
first  American  writer  of  a  textbook  in  grammar  was  the  Virginian, 
Hugh  Jones,  who  published  his  book  in  London  in  1724 ;  that  Noah 
Webster  was  also  antedated  by  Johnson,  1765,  and  by  Byerley,  1773, 
both  of  New  York,  and  by  Curtis,  1778,  of  New  Hampshire.  The  first 
school  of  authentic  record  we  have  found  teaching  the  mother  tongue 
"  grammatically  "  was  in  Wassamacaw,  S.  C,  taught  by  William 
Waterland.  Moreover,  the  middle  colonies,  headed  by  Pennsylvania, 
were  apparently  two  decades  in  advance  of  New  England  in  having  a 
respectable  number  of  private  schools  placing  grammar  on  a  sec- 
ondary-school footing.  To  New  York  (King's  College  and  Colum- 
bia) belongs  credit  for  the  first  thorough  devotion  to, the  mother 
tongue  before  1800,  and  to  North  Carolina  for  the  first  entrance 
examination  in  the  subject. 

New  England,  finally,  can  not  claim  the  first  secondary  school  using 
English  curricula  to  exert  the  widest  influence  in  advancing  vernacu- 
lar instruction  throughout  the  colonies.  To  Pennsylvania,  to  the 
Philadelphia  Academy,  and  to  Benjamin  Franklin,  belong  this  honor, 
the  greatest  of  all.  The  present  chapter  gives  an  account  of  this  insti- 
tution, with  special  reference  to  what  it  taught,  the  influence  it 
exerted,  and  the  motives  which  prompted  it. 


The  story  of  this  institution  begins  with  the  year  1739.  The  evan- 
gelist, George  Whitefield,  preached  in  Philadelphia  to  enormous 
crowds  but  was  excluded  from  most  of  the  churches  of  the  city.68 
Opposition  of  religious  sects  met  him  on  every  side.  The  hostility 
naturally  drew  to  his  support  inhabitants  who  were  free  from  nar- 
rower religious  prejudice,  among  them  Benjamin  Franklin.  White- 
field's  avowed  mission — the  founding  of  an  orphanage — tinctured  his 

68  He  did  preach  in  Christ  Church,  but  was  opposed  by  other  churches.  Wood,  Hist,  of 
TJ.  of  P.  (1834)    in  Mem.  Hist.  So.  of  Pa.,  Ill,  178. 


fervid  discussions  and  turned  the  attention  of  his  listeners  to  the  unsat- 
isfactory status  of  education  for  the  unfortunates  of  the  city.69  In 
1743,  amid  the  fervor  of  Whitefield's  agitation,  Franklin  drew  up  a 
"  scheme  "  for  a  new  school  in  Philadelphia.70  The  scheme  was  not 
further  promulgated  for  six  years,  danger  of  war  with  France  and 
Spain  and  other  troubles  having  intervened.71  But  in  1749  Franklin's 
scheme  became  the  "  Proposals  Relating  to  the  Education  of  Youth  in 
Philadelphia."  Interest  here  centers  in  the  English  curriculum  pro- 
posed by  the  author  and  inaugurated  by  the  trustees.  Extracts  from 
the  proposals,  together  with  the  constitutions  and  the  program  of  the 
English  school,  furnish  evidence  as  to  what  really  was  the  curriculum 
which  dared  to  lift  its  head  among  the  Latin-grammar  schools  of  the 


The  proposals  state  that  the  rector  should  be — 

a  man  of  good  Understanding,  good  Morals,  diligent  and  patient,  learn'd  in  the 
Languages  and  Sciences,  and  a  correct  pure  Speaker  and  Writer  of  the  English  T* 
Tongue.  ... 

All  should  be  taught  to  write  a  fair  Hand,  and  swift,  as  that  is  useful  to 

The  English  Language  might  be  taught  by  Grammar;  in  which  some  of  our 
best  Writers,  as  Tillotson,  Addison,  Pope,  Algernon  Sidney,  Cato's  Letters,  &c, 
should  be  Classicks :  the  Stiles  principally  to  be  cultivated,  being  the  clear  and 
concise.  Reading  should  also  be  taught,  and  pronouncing,  properly,  distinctly, 
emphatically ;  not  with  an  even  Tone,  which  under-does,  nor  a  theatrical,  which 
over-does  Nature.74 

To  form  their  Stile  they  should  be  put  to  writing  Letters  to  each  other,  making 
Abstracts  of  what  they  read ;  or  writing  the  same  Things  in  their  own  Words : 
telling  or  writing  Stories  lately  read,  in  their  own  Expressions.  All  to  be  revised 
and  corrected  by  the  Tutor,  who  should  give  his  Reasons,  and  explain  the  Force 
and  Import  of  Words,  &c. 

89  In  April,  1740,  Franklin  attended  a  meeting  in  which  Whitefleld  preached  of  the 
orphanage  he  intended  to  found.  Franklin  advised  the  founding  of  the  institution  in  Phila- 
delphia, urging  that  materials  and  workmen  would  be  lacking  in  the  wilds  of  Georgia. 
This  was  the  occasion  on  which,  Franklin  tells  us,  after  taking  out  various  smaller  sums, 
"  I  finally  empty'd  my  pocket  wholly  into  the  collector's  bowl,  gold  and  all."  (Autobiog- 
raphy, Griffin  ed.,  173.) 

To  the  preaching  of  Whitefleld  may  be  ascribed  part  of  the  emphasis  in  earlier  Penn- 
sylvania legislation  upon  charity  schools.  This,  together  with  the  wide  divergence  of 
religious  beliefs,  caused  Pennsylvania  to  be  one  of  the  last  States  to  establish  a  free  system 
of  schools,  in  1833. 

70 1743  was  the  year  that  Charles  Fostesque  advertised  his  private  school  in  Philadelphia, 
teaching  "  English  in  a  grammatical  manner.'      Pa.  G.,  Dec.  1,  1743. 

71  Autobiography,  op.  cit ,  178-89. 

72  Proposals  given  in  Smyth,  Life  and  Writ,  of  Benjamin  Franklin,  II,  386  et  seq. 
78  All  words  italicized  are  so  written  in  the  proposals  as  printed  in  Smyth. 

T*  This  savors  so  strongly  of  Hamlet's  speech  to  the  players  that  we  are  surprised  not  to 
find  Shapespeare  in  the  list  of  "  Classicks." 


To  form  their  Pronunciation,  they  may  be  put  on  Declamations,  repeating 
Speeches,  delivering  Orations  &c. ;  the  Tutor  assisting  at  the  Rehearsals,  teach- 
ing, advising,  correcting  their  Accent,  &c.TB 


These  were  drawn  up  by  a  committee  of  two,  consisting  of  Tench 
Francis,  attorney  general,  and  Franklin.  The  constitutions  stipulate 
for  instruction  "  in  the  dead  and  living  Languages,  particularly 
their  Mother  Tongue,  and  all  useful  Branches  of  liberal  Arts  and 
Science  "  76  and  provide : 

An  ACADEMY  for  teaching  the  Latin  and  Greek  Languages,  the  English 
Tongue  grammatically,  and  as  a  Language,  the  most  useful  living  foreign  Lan- 
guages, French,  German  and  Spanish:  As  matters  of  Erudition  naturally  flowing 
from  the  Languages  .  .  .     (The  subjects  named  in  the  Proposals.) 

The  English  Master  shall  be  obliged,  without  the  Assistance  of  any  Tutor,  to 
teach  Forty  Scholars  the  English  Tongue  grammatically,  and  as  a  Language." 

Concerning  this  plan,  remarkable  for  its  emphasis  upon  the  Eng- 
lish, Franklin  states  that  his  desires  "  went  no  further  than  to  procure 
a  good  English  education."  78  But  his  friends  insisted  upon  a  classi- 
cal school.  In  both  the  documents  just  cited  the  sections  dealing  with 
the  classics  are  distinctly  subordinated  and  have  the  appearance  of  an 
afterthought,  inserted  after  the  original  draft  to  appease  Franklin's 
coworkers.  For  himself,  the  founder  was  resolved  "  to  nourish  the 
English  school  by  every  means  in  my  power."  79 


The  Academy  and  Charity  School,  with  Franklin  as  the  first  presi- 
dent of  the  trustees,  was  established  in  1750,80  with  the  following 
vernacular  program  in  the  English  school : 

First  Class: 

English  Grammar,  rules. 


Short  Pieces,  such  as  Craxall's  Fables. 

"To  this  vernacular  instruction  are  added  geography,  chronology,  ancient  customs, 
morality,  history,  natural  history,  history  of  commerce,  mathematics.  Also,  "All  intended 
for  Divinity  should  be  taught  the  Latin  and  Greek;  for  Physick,  the  Latin,  Greek  and 
French;  for  Law,  the  Latin  and  French;  Merchants,  the  French,  German  and  Spanish;  and 
though  all  should  not  be  compell'd  to  learn  Latin,  Greek  or  the  modern  foreign  Languages  ; 
yet  none  that  have  an  ardent  Desire  to  learn  them  should  be  refused  ;  their  English, 
Arithmetick,  and  other  studies  absolutely  necessary  being  at  the  same  time  not  neglected." 
Smyth,  op.  cit.,  394. 

78  Montgomery,  Hist,  of  U.  of  P.,  46. 

"  Ibid.,  47,  48. 

78  Sparks,  Works  of  Benjamin  Franklin,  II,  133. 

79  Ibid.,   134. 

80  Franklin,  writing  from  memory,  in  1789,  gives  the  date  as  1749,  but  the  date  of  con- 
veyance of  "  The  New  Building  "  was  Feb.  1,  1750.  Advertisement  of  the  Academy  in  Pa. 
G.,  Dec.  11,  1750, 


Second  Class: 

Expressive  Reading. 

Grammar,  parts  of  speech  and  sentence  structure. 

The  Spectator. 
Third  Class: 


Elements  of  Rhetoric,  Grammatical  errors  corrected. 
Fourth  Class: 

Composition,  Letter  writing,  little  stories,  accounts  of  reading. 

Letters,  Temple  and  Pope. 

Speaking  and  Oral  Reading. 
Fifth  Class: 

Composition,  Essays  in  Prose  and  Verse. 

Oral  Reading  and  Speaking. 
Sixth  Class: 

English  Authors,  Tillotson,  Milton,  Locke,  Addison,  Pope,  Swift,  Spectator 
and  Guardian. 

Some  classes  always  to  be  with  the  writing  master  and  with  the  Arithme- 
tick  master,  while  the  rest  are  in  the  English  school.81 



Study  of  the  proposals,  the  constitutions,  and  the  program  indicate 
a  secondary  school,  with  the  vernacular  as  its  central  study,  as  preten- 
tious as  any  of  the  Latin  schools  of  the  period.82  The  phrases  "  Eng- 
lish Tongue  grammatically "  and  "  as  a  Language,"  many  times 
repeated,  are  eloquent  with  that  purpose.  Franklin  was  no  advocate 
of  the  classics  as  the  backbone  of  public  instruction.  He  affirmed  "  the 
still  prevailing  custom  of  .  .  .  teaching  the  Latin  and  Greek  lan- 
guages ...  I  consider  ...  in  no  other  light  than  as  the  chapeau  bras 
of  modern  literature." 83  Indeed,  the  English  program  contains 
almost  every  element  of  the  best  modern  secondary-school  practice  in 
the  vernacular :  Grammar ;  composition,  both  oral  and  written ;  decla- 
mation ;  and  literature  in  the  form  of  the  classics  of  the  mother  tongue. 
Other  studies  are  grouped  around  the  English.  It  seems  safe  to 
believe  that  never  before  in  America,  and  not  for  quite  half  a  cen- 
tury later,  was  any  such  complete  English  program  projected.  It  was 
almost  100  years  in  advance  of  its  time.  Like  the  leaders  of  most 
reforms,  Franklin  as  champion  of  the  mother  tongue  in  secondary 
education  seems  to  stand  alone.  The  institution  he  founded  was  soli- 
tary.   He  was  as  distinctly  a  pioneer  in  education  as  he  was  in  science. 

At  first  the  English  school  prospered.  In  the  opening  year  the 
English  and  the  Latin  schools  together  numbered  more  than  100 

81  The  English  program  is  compiled  from  Franklin's  Works,  Sparks,  op.  cit.,  II,  125-32. 

82  It  may  be  safer  to  say  that  the  English  school  was  intended  to  be  on  an  equal  footing 
with  the  Latin.  In  reality,  it  never  was.  In  the  very  beginning  the  Latin  master  received 
a  salary  of  £200,  the  English  master  £100.  The  former  had  more  assistance  than  the  latter. 
The  time  of  the  English  master  was  often  employed  in  the  Latin  school.  Smyth,  op.  cit., 
X,  12. 

83  Smyth,  op.  cit.,  II,  159, 


pupils.84  In  1752  there  were  above  90  scholars  in  the  English  school 
alone,  according  to  a  minute  of  the  trustees.85  The  first  English 
master  was  David  James  Dove,  who  had  taught  grammar  in  Chi- 
chester, England,  for  16  years  and  who  was  in  Franklin's  estimation 
;<  a  clean,  pure  Speaker  and  Writer  of  English."  86  Commenting  on 
the  early  success  of  the  English  program,  Franklin  says : 

He  (Mr.  Dove)  had  a  good  Voice,  read  perfectly  well,  with  proper  Accent  and 
just  Pronunciation,  and  his  Method  of  communicating  Hahits  of  the  same  kind 
to  his  Pupils  was  this.  When  he  gave  a  Lesson  to  one  of  them,  he  always  first 
read  it  to  him  aloud,  with  all  the  different  Modulations  of  the  Voice  that  the  Sub- 
ject and  the  Sense  required.  These  the  Scholars,  in  studying  and  repeating  the 
Lesson,  naturally  endeavour'd  to  imitate; 8T  and  it  was  really  surprizing  to  see 
how  soon  they  caught  his  Manner.  ...  In  a  few  Weeks  after  opening  his 
School,  the  Trustees  were  invited  to  hear  the  Scholars  read  and  recite.  .  .  .  The 
Performances  were  surprizingly  good  .  .  .  and  the  English  School  thereby 
acquired  such  Reputation,  that  the  Number  of  Mr.  Dove's  pupils  soon  mounted 
to  upwards  of  Ninety,  which  Number  did  not  diminish  as  long  as  he  continued 
Master,  viz.,  upwards  of  two  years.8' 

Unfortunately  the  high-water  mark  of  the  English  school's  pros- 
perity was  reached  only  two  years  after  its  founding.  In  1753  Ebe- 
nezer  Kinnersley  was  elected  successor  to  Dove,  who  devoted  himself 
to  a  private  school  in  Philadelphia  which  he  had  begun  while  still 
active  in  the  Academy.89  Kinnersley,  who  had  collaborated  with 
Franklin  in  experimenting  with  electricity,90  was  evidently  more  pro- 
ficient in  science  than  in  teaching  English,  for  under  him  the  English 
school  began  a  rapid  decline.  In  the  words  of  Franklin,  "  the  Trustees 
provided  another  Master  .  .  .  not  possessing  the  Talents  of  an  Eng- 
lish School  Master  in  the  same  Perfection  with  Mr.  Dove,"  whereupon 
"  the  school  diminished  daily  and  soon  was  found  to  have  about  forty 
scholars  left.91    The  Performances  ...     in  Reading  and  Speaking 

84  Quoted  from  sermon  on  education  by  Rev.  Richard  Peters,  1750,  preached  at  the  open- 
ing of  the  Academy,  Montgomery,  op.  cit.,  141. 

85  "There  being  above  ninety  Scholars  in  the  English  School,  and  Mr.  Dove  having 
declared  he  found  it  impossible  duly  to  instruct  so  great  a  number  without  another  assist- 
ant." .  .  .    Quoted  from  the  minutes,  Dec.  10,  1751,  ibid.,  144. 

88  Letter  to  Samuel  Johnson,  Dec.  4,  1751.     Ibid.,  513. 

It  is  significant  that  Franklin  endeavored  by  every  means  in  hie  power  to  secure  Samuel 
Johnson  to  become  the  English  master.     Ibid.,  508. 

87  This  is  to-day  considered  extremely  bad  practice  in  teaching  oral  English.  "  Imitate 
me,"  "  this  is  the  way  to  speak  the  passage,"  is  indeed  the  quickest  way  to  secure  results 
and  doubtless  enabled  Dove  to  give  public  exhibitions  within  a  few  weeks  after  beginning 
his  work.     But  direct  imitation  is  bad  pedagogy. 

88  Smyth,  op.  cit.,  X,  14.  15. 
•»  Pa.  G.,  Aug.  29,  1751. 

80  Kinnersley  is  said  by  Provost  Smith  to  have  been  "  the  chief  inventor  of  the  electrical 
apparatus,  as  well  as  the  author  of  a  considerable  part  of  those  discoveries  in  electricity 
published  by  Mr.  Franklin,  to  whom  he  communicated  them."  Amer.  Mag.,  Oct.,  1758  ; 
cited,  Wood,  Mem.  Hist.  Soc.  Pa..  Ill,  191.  Kinnersley  published  "  Experiments  in  Elec- 
tricity," 1764,  in  Philadelphia.  Cat.  of  Public.  Prior  to  1775,  in  Trans,  of  Am.  Antiq. 
Soc,  II,  570.     Evans,  op.  cit.,  3,  390. 

81  The  trustees'  minutes,  Mar.  5,  1757,  give  the  number  of  students:  Philosophy  school, 
12  ;  Latin,  60 ;  Mathematical..  22  ;  English,  31.     Montgomery,  op.  cit.,  282-4, 



.  .  .  discontinued  and  the  English  School  has  never  since  recovere 
its  original  Reputation."  92 

The  retrogression  of  the  English  school  and  the  prosperity  of  the 
Latin  school  receives  Franklin's  bitter  condemnation.  He  himself 
was  absent  from  Philadelphia  much  of  the  time  for  nearly  30  years, 
and,  as  he  says, "  in  the  course  of  14  years  several  of  the  original  Trus- 
tees, who  had  been  disposed  to  favour  the  English  School,  deceased, 
and  others  not  so  favorable  were  chosen  to  supply  their  places."93 
The  whole  story  of  the  process  by  which,  to  use  his  words,  English 
"  was  starved  out  of  the  Scheme  of  Education  "  is  set  forth  by  him  in 
"  Observations  Relative  to  the  Intentions  of  the  Original  Founders  of 
the  Academy  in  Philadelphia,"  published  near  the  end  of  his  life,  in 
the  year  1789.94 

Almost  pathetically  he  bemoans  the  failure  of  the  English  school : 

I  am  the  only  one  of  the  original  Trustees  now  living,  and  I  am  just  stepping 
into  the  grave  myself.  ...  I  seem  here  to  be  surrounded  by  the  Ghosts  of  my 
dear  departed  Friends,  beckoning  and  urging  me  to  use  the  only  Tongue  now 
left  us,  in  demanding  That  Justice  to  our  Grandchildren  that  our  Children  has 
[Franklin's  defective  grammar]  been  denied." 

He  cites  numerous  instances  of  prejudice  on  the  part  of  the  "  Latin- 
ists  "  to  kill  the  English  curriculum,  running  it  down  until  in  1763 
"  Mr.  Kinnersley's  time  was  entirely  taken  up  in  teaching  little  boys 
the  elements  of  the  English  Language  (that  is,  it  was  dwindled  into 
a  School  similar  to  those  kept  by  old  Women,  who  teach  Children 
Letters) ."  96    In  another  connection  Franklin  asserts : 

>The  Latinists  were  combin'd  to  deny  the  English  School  as  useless.  It  was 
without  Example,  they  said,  as  indeed  they  still  say  (1789),  that  a  School  for 
teaching  the  Vulgar  Tongue,  and  the  Sciences  in  that  Tongue,  was  ever  formed 
with  a  College,  and  that  the  Latin  Masters  were  fully  competent  to  teach 
English.*7  .  .  .  Thus  by  our  injudiciously  starving  the  English  Part  out  of  our 
Scheme  of  Education,  we  only  saved  £50  a  year.  .  .  .  We  lost  Fifty  Scholars 
which  would  have  been  £200  a  year,  and  defeated,  besides,  one  great  End  of  the 

In  spite  of  "  Neglect,  Slights,  Discouragements,  and  Injustice " 
(Franklin's  words)99  the  English  program  never  entirely  died.  On 
July  23,  1769,  a  resolution  passed  the  board  that  "  after  the  17th  of 

92  Smyth,  op.  cit.,  X,  15. 

»*Ibid.,  16. 

•*  Ibid.,  9-31. 

95  Smyth,  op.  cit.,  X,  29. 

98  "  The  State  of  the  English  School  was  taken  into  consideration  and  it  was  observed 
that  Mr.  Kinnersley's  Time  was  entirely  taken  up  with  Teaching  little  Boys  the  Elements 
of  the  English  Language."    Min.  trustees,  Feb.  3,  1763.     Montgomery,  op.  cit.,  247. 

97  Smyth,  op  cit,  X,  16,  19. 

88  Franklin  appears  to  overstate  the  opposition.  About  the  only  part  of  the  English 
program  actually  starved  out  was  the  public  exhibitions,  of  which  Mr.  Dove  had  made  so 
popular  a  showing.  It  is  interesting  to  note  that  the  branch  which  hung  on  most  tenaciously 
was  English  grammar. 

•»  Smyth,  op.  cit.,  27, 


October  next,  Mr.  Kinnersley's  present  Salary  do  cease,  and  that  from 
that  time  the  said  School  .  .  .  shall  be  on  the  following  Footing,  viz 
.  .  ."  (the  fees  of  the  pupils  to  go  directly  to  the  English  master,  who 
is  guaranteed  no  salary.1  But  on  August  1,  1769,  this  action  was 
reconsidered,  and  on  July  21, 1771,  "  the  Provost  was  desired  to  adver- 
tise for  a  Master  able  to  teach  English  Grammatically,  which  seems 
was  all  the  English  Master  was  now  required  to  teach,  the  other 
Branches  originally  promised  being  dropt  entirely."  2  So  the  hard 
struggle  for  English  went  on.  Franklin's  protest  of  1789  did  very 
little  good,  and  in  1810  Dr.  John  Andrews,  provost  of  the  University 
of  Pennsylvania,  affirmed  that  the  principal  master  of  English  was 
not  called  professor,  but  master;  that  this  work  was  considered  below 
college  grade  and  subordinate  to  it.  The  provost  thought  that  on  the 
death  of  the  then  incumbent  at  the  head  of  the  English  school  it 
would  be  abolished  altogether.3 

In  the  preceding  chapter  has  been  described  the  course  of  the  Eng- 
lish program  in  King's  College  and  Columbia,  under  the  leadership 
of  Samuel  Johnson  and  of  William  Samuel  Johnson.  In  strange  con- 
trast to  the  "  starving "  process  which  well-nigh  killed  English 
instruction  in  the  College  and  Academy  of  Philadelphia  we  find  the 
admirable  courses  offered  in  1792  by  the  president  of  the  New  York 
institution.  The  writer  feels  that  the  main  cause  of  this  startling 
contrast  was  due  to  the  influence  of  Provost  Smith,  a  Latinist,  in 
Pennsylvania,  as  contrasted  with  the  influence  of  the  Johnsons,  mod- 
erns, in  King's  College.  But  an  even  more  important  cause  may  have 
been  the  difference  in  the  internal  organization  of  the  two  institutions. 
In  Columbia  the  college  curriculum  was  organized  by  departments 
on  an  equal  footing.  In  Pennsylvania  there  was  a  philosophical, 
an  English  classical,  and  a  mathematical  school,  each  with  its  almost 
distinct  program,  attempting  to  grow  up  side  by  side.  The  Colum- 
bia organization  seems  to  give  each  department  a  better  oppor- 
tunity to  demonstrate  its  worth,  being  essentially  a  college,  rather  than 
a  university,  organization.  Obviously,  English  had  a  better  chance  to 
raise  itself  to  independent  dignity  in  Columbia.  It  would  be  interest- 
ing to  speculate  as  to  the  course  in  the  vernacular  in  Pennsylvania  had 
Franklin  been  able  to  continue  his  personal  supervision. 


Such,  then,  was  the  precarious  and  inglorious  career  of  English  in 
Franklin's  school,  a  career  which  belied  the  purpose  of  the  founder  and 
was  entirely  inconsistent  with  the  success  of  the  first  few  years.    To 

1  Ibid.,  23.  a  Ibid.,  27.  »  Battle,  Hist.  Univ.  N.  Car.,  I,  50. 

60258°— 22 4 



affirm  that  this  institution,  prematurely  attempting  to  raise  verna< 
lar  instruction  to  the  dignity  of  the  Latin,  was  an  influential  leader  of 
that  movement  may  seem  foolhardy. 

At  the  outset  we  face  the  fact  that  the  Philadelphia  Academy 
stands,  in  point  of  time,  at  the  head  of  a  list  of  private  schools  which, 
between  1750  and  1765  in  Pennsylvania  and  adjoining  colonies,  pro- 
posed to  teach  the  English  language.  This  fact,  taken  alone,  may 
have  been  merely  a  coincidence.  Indeed,  from  the  viewpoint  of 
chronological  priority,  Fortesque's  school  in  Philadelphia  (1743) 
itself  precedes  Franklin's.  Only  in  connection  with  facts  cited  below 
is  the  Philadelphia  Academy  to  be  accorded  the  position  of  leadership. 

Next  may  be  cited  the  striking  fact  that  the  distinctive  phrases 
describing  the  central  purpose  of  the  new  venture — "  English  Tongue 
grammatically  "  and  "  English  as  a  language  " — many  times  repeated 
in  the  published  announcements  and  documents  of  the  Franklin 
school,  were  used  verbatim,  or  nearly  so,  by  many  schools  immediately 
succeeding  it  in  the  colonies.  This  also,  considered  alone,  may  not  be 
significant  of  leadership.  It  may  be  said  with  justice  that  in  1743 
Fortesque,  in  Benjamin  Franklin's  own  paper,  used  the  equivalent 
phrase — "  English  in  a  grammatical  manner  " 4 — and  that  Water- 
land  in  South  Carolina,  in  1734,  used  almost  the  equivalent  phrase — 
'*  English  being  taught  grammatically."  5  There  is  no  attempt  to 
ascribe  to  Franklin  the  authorship  of  these  phrases  or  of  the  ideas 
back  of  them ; 6  but  both  schools  were  obscure  and  private  ventures, 
without  the  direct  advocacy  of  a  powerful  publication  like  Frank- 
lin's Philadelphia  Gazette.  Moreover,  the  auspices  of  the  Franklin 
school,  warmly  supported  as  it  was  by  such  men  as  Attorney  General 
Francis  and  various  colony  officials,  with  a  board  of  24  trustees  of 
leading  men  of  the  city,  were  likely  to  secure  all  publicity  possible  in 

The  place  to  look  first  for  the  academy's  direct  influence  on  other 
schools  is  in  Philadelphia,  its  immediate  environs,  and  in  towns  of 
close  proximity.  Within  10  years  several  other  schools  in  Phila- 
delphia were  teaching  English  grammatically.7    Three  of  these  were 

*  Pa.  G.,  Dec.  1,  1743. 

Charles  Hoole,  1660,  may  have  been  the  inventor  of  the  phrase.  He  says  :  "  He  that 
would  be  further  instructed  how  by  teaching  English  more  Grammatically,  to  prepare  his 
Scholars  for  Latine,  let  him  consult  Mr.  Poole's  English  Accidents,  and  Mr.  Wharton's 
English  Grammar  ;  as  the  best  books  that  I  know  at  present."     Bardeen's  reprint,  80. 

6  S.  Car.  G.,  Nov.  16,  1734. 

•  The  comment  might  also  be  made  that  the  phrases  cited  are  the  natural  expressions  of 
any  schoolman  desiring  to  emphasize  English  grammar  in  his  curriculum.  This  comment 
has  a  certain  validity  ;  but  "  English  tongue  grammatically  "  and  "  English  as  a  language  " 
are  truly  distinctive  phrases.  The  New  England  schoolmasters  employed  much  more 
prosaic  expressions,  such  as  "  according  to  the  Rules  of  Grammar,"  "  understanding  the 
English  Grammar,  "  learn  the  English  Grammar,"  and  the  like.     See  Chap.  II. 

1 1n  1759  the  number  of  dwelling  houses  in  Philadelphia  was  4,474,  indicating  a  popula- 
tion of  between  20,000  and  30,000.    R.  Proud,  Hist.  Pa.  in  N.  A.,  1770,  279. 


established  by  David  James  Dove,  the  first  English  master  of  the 
academy.  The  first  was  a  girl's  school,  in  1751,  in  which  English 
grammar  was  taught.  For  devotion  to  this  school  and  neglect  of  his 
duties  in  the  academy  Dove  was  dismissed  in  1753. 8  The  second  was 
in  1758,  when  Dove  and  Riley  professed  to  teach  "  English  Language 
according  to  the  most  exact  rules  of  grammar."  9  The  third  may  have 
been  a  continuation  of  the  second,  when  in  1759  Dove  and  Williams 
announced  "  Grammatical  Knowledge  of  their  (the  pupils')  mother 
tongue,  as  is  laid  down  in  Greenwood's  Grammar."  10  Two  years 
later  Dove  became  master  in  Germantown  Academy,  where  he  taught 
"  English  as  a  Language."  "  Dove  had  taught  English  grammar  16 
years  in  England ;  it  might  therefore  be  fairer  to  attribute  the  credit 
for  the  teaching  of  English  to  direct  influence  from  the  mother 
country.  There  can  be  little  doubt  that  Dove  in  these  schools  was 
endeavoring  to  make  capital  of  the  popularity  he  had  enjoyed  at  the 

In  1754  another  Philadelphia  school  was  projected  by  one  John 
Jones,  "  late  assistant  to  Mr.  Dove  in  the  Academy." 

[He]  has  opened  his  new  School-House  where  .  .  .  the  English  Tongue  will  be 
taught  ...  to  those,  whose  Parents  request  it,  as  a  Language,  and  delivery  in 
the  method  pursued  by  that  worthy  Professor,  Mr.  Dove  when  in  the  Academy, 
by  which  his  Scholars  made  such  a  wonderful  Proficiency,  and  he  gained  so 
great  a  favor  deservedly." 

Referring  to  schools  like  Jones's  and  Dove's,  we  have  also  Franklin's 
own  testimony  that  the  very  failure  of  his  plans  in  the  academy 
spread  the  instruction  of  English  as  a  language.    He  says : 

Parents,  indeed,  despairing  of  any  reformation,  withdrew  their  children,  and 
placed  them  in  private  schools,  of  which  several  now  appeared  in  the  city,  pro- 
fessing to  teach  what  had  been  promised  to  be  taught  in  the  Academy;  and  they 
have  since  flourished  and  increased  by  the  scholars  the  Academy  might  have 
had,  if  it  had  performed  its  engagements." 

Evidence  is  not  lacking  that  the  neighboring  colonies  were  aware 
of  the  success  of  Franklin's  school.  For  example,  in  1754,  while  the 
English  school  was  still  flourishing,  an  interesting  communication 
appeared  in  the  Maryland  Gazette,  written  by  one  who  signed  himself 
f  Philo  Merilandicus,"  to  this  effect :  "  On  inquiry  it  has  been  found 
that  there  are  (at  least)  100  Marylanders  in  the  academy  in  Phila- 
delphia. .  .  ."  14  The  writer  laments  the  loss  to  Maryland  of  £5,000 
sterling  a  year.  He  says  also :  "  Vast  sums  are  every  year  transmitted 
to  France,  etc.,  for  the  Education  of  Young  Gentlemen.  .  .  ."    He 

»  Pa.  G.,  Aug.  29.  1751. 

•  Ibid.,  Jan.  12,  1758. 

»  Ibid.,  Aug.  9,  1759. 

11  Ibid.,  Nov.  19,  1761. 

u  Pa.  Q.,  Oct.  24,  1754. 

18  Sparks,  Franklin's  Works,  II,  149. 

"  In  1755  the  academy  had  300  students.     Wickersham,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  Pa.,  62. 





expresses  a  wish  to  establish  a  college  on  the  East  Shore,  and  conceiv 
ways  and  means  for  keeping  within  Maryland  the  money  advanced  as 
aforesaid  for  the  use  of  Pennsylvania.15    Here  is  positive  evidence  that 
the  academy  in  Philadelphia,  which  had  the  distinction  of  an  Englis 
program,  was  attracting  attention. 

Suggestion  to  the  same  effect  is  found  in  the  will  of  one  James  Van 
Horn,  of  Dover,  East  New  Jersey,  in  1761.  He  gives  all  his  estate  to 
his  sons  John  and  James,  u  James  to  be  given  the  best  education  the 
Province  of  Pennsylvania  affords,  either  at  the  Academy,  or  Mr. 
Dove's  English  School."  ie 

If  the  Philadelphia  College  and  Academy  was  attracting  numerous 
students  from  other  colonies,17  there  may  be  found  in  this  fact  a 
motive  for  the  action  taken  in  1763  by  the  College  of  New  Jersey,  a 
near  rival.  President  S.  Finley  in  that  year  announced  the  opening 
of  an  English  school  as  an  appendage  of  the  college,  with  an  English 
program  almost  identical  with  the  academy's.18 

The  College  of  New  Jersey,  which  thus  seems  to  have  followed  t 
lead  of  the  Philadelphia  Academy  in  establishing  an  English  scho 
was  itself  influential  in  spreading  grammatical  instruction  in  the 
mother  tongue.    It,  too,  was  a  cosmopolitan  institution,  drawing  stu- 
dents from  the  South,  from  Maryland  and  Virginia  especially. 

The  influence  of  Princeton  men  who  became  teachers  may  be  illus- 
trated by  the  experience  of  Philip  Fithian  (Princeton,  1770-1772), 
who  became  tutor  in  the  family  (plantation  school)  of  the  famous 
Col.  Carter,  of  Westmoreland  County,  Va.  In  his  Journal  and  Let- 
ters we  find  four  entries  relating  to  instruction  in  grammar.  "  The 
Second  Son  is  reading  English  Grammar ;  "  "  Mr.  Carter  put  into  my 
hands  for  the  use  of  the  School  The  British  Grammar."  19  Fithian 
evidently  felt  the  need  of  renewing  this  subject,  for  we  find  this 
entry  a  few  days  later  in  his  journal :  "  I  read  Pictete,  The  Spectator, 
Lambert,  History  of  England,  English  Grammar,  Arithmetic  and 
Magazines  by  turns." 20  The  final  entry  perhaps  indicates  why 
Fithian  was  so  industrious  in  teaching  Carter's  children  grammar: 
"  Mr.  Carter  is  a  remarkable  man  in  English  Grammar."  21 

"Letter  to  Jonas  Greene,  Md.  G.,  Mar.  21,  1754.  Reprinted,  Steiner,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in 
Md.,  29. 

»  N.  Y.  M.,  Mar.  9,  1761 ;  N.  J.  Arc,  XX,  541. 

17  George  B.  Wood,  writing  in  1834,  attests  to  the  celebrity  of  the  academy.  "  From  this 
period,  1757,  the  institution  rose  rapidly  in  importance.  The  extent  and  liberality  of  its 
plan,  conjoined  with  the  excellence  of  its  management,  secured  it  the  patronage  of  the 
neighboring  population  ;  and  it  soon  acquired  a  celebrity  which  attracted  numerous  stu- 
dents from  distant  colonies.  Prom  Maryland,  Virginia,  and  the  Carol inas  it  received  much 
support  .  .  .  many  planters  preferred  it,  for  the  education  of  their  children,  to  the  schools 
of  England."    Wood,  Hist,  of  Univ.  of  Pa.,  Pa.  Hist.  Soc,  III,  185. 

18  Pa.  J.,  Nov.  10,  1763  ;  N.  J.  Arc,  XXIV,  266.     See  Chap.  II,  p.  27. 
"Fithian,  Jour,  and  Let.,  55,  56. 
»Ibid.,   66. 
» Ibid.,  97. 


Kobert  Cather's .  School  of  Elizabeth  Town,  East  New  Jersey,  in 
1762,  was  modeled  on  exactly  the  same  English  plan  as  the  Phila- 
delphia Academy.  He  opened  a  boarding  school  with  a  varied 
curriculum : 

as  also,  Boys  to  be  instructed  in  the  Beauty  and  Propriety  of  the  English  Tongue, 
which  shall  be  taught  as  a  Language;  the  best  English  Authors  shall  be  read 
and  explained ;  the  Art  of  Rhetoric,  or  Oratory,  shall  be  taught  with  Care  and 
Exactness,  Specimens  of  the  Boys'  Proficiency  therein  shall  be  given  every 

This  is  the  exact  Philadelphia  scheme. 

In  1767  a  school  called  the  Somerset  Academy  was  founded  in 
Somerset  County,  Md.,  whose  curriculum  also  bears  a  striking  resem- 
blance to  the  Franklin  institution.  The  following  reference  is  found 
in  a  letter  written  by  a  "  Gentleman  on  his  Travels  "  (Wm.  Rind), 
who  had  visited  the  Philadelphia  Academy  in  1769 : 

Erected  about  two  years  ago,  ...  in  the  county  of  Somerset,  Maryland,  ...  a 
house  sixty-two  feet  in  length  and  twenty  feet  in  breadth;  .  .  .  employs  two 
Masters  of  Liberal  Education  [who  teach]  .  .  .  the  rudiments  of  English 
Grammar,  .  .  .  Spelling,  .  .  .  writing,  .  .  .  Latin  and  Greek,  .  .  .  and  various 
branches  of  the  Arts  and  Sciences.  .  .  .  Great  pains  are  taken  to  cultivate  the 
Art  of  Speaking,  which  is  necessary  in  order  to  shine  in  the  Senate,  at  the  bar, 
and  in  the  pulpit.23 

The  last  sentence  of  the  foregoing  quotation,  with  its  stress  upon 
speaking,  is  highly  suggestive  of  the  Franklin  curriculum.  That 
seems  to  have  been  the  most  popular  part  of  Dove's  work,  Franklin 
especially  commending  the  excellence  of  the  public  programs  given 
by  Dove's  pupils. 

Similar  stress  is  placed  upon  speaking  in  several  notices  of  schools 
included  in  this  section.  It  may  not  be  out  of  place  to  note  again  that 
the  original  u  scheme  "  was  drawn  up  in  Philadelphia  in  1743,  while 
the  city  was  still  under  the  spell  of  Whitefield's  eloquence.  Franklin, 
himself  a  modest  speaker,  may  have  had  in  mind  the  power  of  White- 
field  when  he  prescribed  in  his  first  paragraph  that  the  rector  of  his 
school  must  be  a  "  correct  pure  Speaker  and  Writer  of  the  English 
Tongue,"  and  directed  "  making  Declamations,  repeating  Speeches 
and  delivering  Orations."  Indeed,  in  regard  to  grammar,  his  scheme 
says  merely :  "  The  English  Language  might  be  taught  by  Gram- 
mar." Perhaps  at  that  time  he  was  not  convinced  that  English  could 
be  taught  "  as  a  language  ";  he  certainly  was  so  convinced  before  the 
proposals  and  the  constitutions  appeared  in  1749. 

The  direct  influence  of  the  academy  spread  to  a  marked  degree 
through  the  efforts  of  students  who  became  teachers  in  other  colonies. 
This  is  indicated  by  the  evidence  of  Philo  Merilandicus  cited  above. 

"Pa.  J.,  Apr.   1,   1762;  N.  J.  Arc,  XXIV,  21. 
23  Va.  G.,  Feb.   23,  1769. 




Influence  spread  in  this  way  certainly  in  the  case  of  Andrew  D'Ell 
cent  and  Alexander  Alexander,  who  in  1766  announced  a  school  in 
Charleston,  S.  C,  as  follows: 

Andrew  D'Ellicent  and  Alexander  Alexander,  late  from  the  College  of  Phil 
delphia,  beg  leave  to  inform  the  Publick  that  they  intend  to  open  a  School  . 
where  will  be  taught  the  English,  French,  Latin  and  Greek  Languages  gra 
matically,  likewise  writing,  etc.  .  .  .  Young  ladies  may  be  instructed  in  the 
English  Grammar  as  to  be  enabled  to  speak  and  write  their  native  tongue 
with  .  .  .  Propriety.  Boys  who  have  a  taste  and  talents  for  Oratory  may  be 
taught  rhetoric,  and  to  pronounce  Orations  with  due  action  and  diction." 

In  1757  a  list  of  all  the  pupils  enrolled  in  the  Philadelphia  Acad- 
emy the  preceding  year  includes  the  name  of  one  Lindley  Murray  in 
the  English  school.25  Wood,  a  University  of  Pennsylvania  professor, 
in  his  history  of  that  institution,  written  in  1834,  asserts  that  he  has 
no  doubt  that  this  is  the  Murray  who  wrote  the  famous  Murray  gram- 
mars.26 Murray,  who  wrote  in  England,  we  know  to  have  been  an 
American.  If  Wood  is  correct  and  Lindley  Murray  did  actually 
receive  his  first  instruction  in  grammar  at  the  academy,  this  in  itself 
would  be  a  strong  argument  for  the  direct  influence  of  the  institution 
on  later  schools  and  school  practices. 

There  is  no  intention  of  exaggerating  the  influence  of  Franklin's 
academy.  Probably  the  schools  and  schoolmasters  did  not  deliber- 
ately follow  the  academy  as  a  model.  It  is  much  more  likely  that 
many  of  them  were  influenced  by  the  numerous  educational  writers 
whose  works  were  widely  circulated  in  America,  the  very  men  who 
moved  Franklin  to  his  innovation.  Responsive  also,  as  was  Franklin, 
to  the  growing  feeling  of  restlessness  under  the  Latin  curriculum  as 
unsuited  to  the  intensely  practical  life  of  the  Nation,  many  of  the 
schoolmen  turned  instinctively  to  the  mother  tongue.  A  discussion 
of  these  broader  agencies,  which  spread  the  vernacular  instruction  far 
more  powerfully  than  did  the  example  of  Franklin  or  of  any  institu- 
tion, constitutes  the  following  section. 

The  history  of  educational  reforms  shows  that  observation  and 
imitation  of  actual  school  practices,  even  more  than  the  study  of 
educational  theories,  is  the  unrivaled  moving  force.  To  Melanch- 
thon's  school,  to  St.  Paul's,  to  Yverdun,  to  the  Boston  Latin,  to 
Rugby,  to  Gary,  schoolmen  make  pilgrimages,  either  literal  or  figura- 
tive; then  they  go  home  to  inaugurate  these  innovations  for  them- 
selves. There  is  reason  to  suppose  that  this  was  a  common  procedure 
in  1750  to  1775 ; 27  and  the  one  school,  above  all  others,  which  in  loca- 

**  S.  C.   G.,  May  20,   1766.        25  List  printed  in  Montgomery.  Hist,  of  U.  of  P.,  284. 

16  Wood,  Hist,  of  U.  P.,  186. 

27  An  interesting  example  of  this,  of  the  date  we  are  now  considering,  and  establishing 
further  the  influence  of  the  Philadelphia  institution  is  the  following  :  Rev.  James  Madison 
was  graduated  from  William  and  Mary  in  1771,  and  nine  years  later  became  President  of 
that  college.  He  is  said  to  have  introduced  into  William  and  Mary  the  curriculum  of  the 
Philadelphia  College  and  Academy.  In  1785  he  received  the  degree  of  doctor  of  divinity 
from  the  University  of  Pennsylvania.    Montgomery,  op.  cit.,  263. 


tion,  in  point  of  time,  in  publicity,  in  prestige  of  foundation,  was 
most  suited  for  such  leadership  was  Franklin's  English  school  of 
1750.  We  believe  that  Robert  Proud,  in  his  History  of  Pennsylvania 
in  North  America,  written  between  1770  and  1780,  was  right  in  at 
least  one  respect  when  he  said :  "  The  College  and  Academy  of  Phila- 
delphia ...  is  likely  ...  to  become  the  most  considerable  of  its 
kind,  perhaps  in  British  America." 28 


UP  TO  1775. 

Preceding  sections  presented  schools  and  colleges  teaching  English 
grammatically  and  the  Franklin  academy  as  having  the  right  to  be 
considered  the  first  leading  secondary  school  with  the  English  pro- 
gram. Consideration  now  turns  to  an  analysis  of  the  educational 
ideas  which  induced  American  schools  to  enlarge  upon  the  few  scat- 
tered beginnings  of  grammar  in  the  eighteenth  century  and  to  adopt 
very  widely  at  its  close  an  English  program  with  grammar  as  its 
central  study. 


Several  educational  "treatises  widely  known  in  England  made  th'eir 
way  into  the  American  colonies  before  1775.  Prominent  among  these 
were  "  Some  Thoughts  concerning  Education,"  1639,  by  John 
Locke; 29  "  British  Education," by  Thomas  Sheridan,  1756; 30  "  Obser- 
vations for  Liberal  Education,"  London,  1742,  by  George  Turnbull ; 31 
"  Dialogues  Concerning  Education,"  published  anonymously,  1745, 
by  James  Fordyce ; 82  and  "  Essays  on  Education,  by  Milton,  Locke, 
and  the  Authors  of  the  Spectator,"  London,  1761  edition,  by  K. 

In  1747  Franklin  advertised  the  works  of  Locke,  Turnbull,  and 
Fordyce,  and  showing  that  he  was  himself  interested  in  these  books 

28  Proud,    op.   cit.,   II,    281. 

29  Advertised,  Pa.  G.,  Dec.  3,  1747,  by  B.  Franklin  ;  B.  N.  L.,  Sept.  4,  1750  ;  N.  Y.  M., 
Sept.  24,  1752  ;  Conn.  G.,  Apr.  12,  1755  ;  Ga.  G.,  Apr.  14,  1763  ;  B.  Ch.,  May  1768,  etc. 

8°  Advertised,  S.  C.  G.  and  C.  J.,  Mar.  1,  1763  ;  N.  Y.  M.,  Nov.  7,  1763  ;  B.  Ch.,  May  2, 
1768;  Va.   G.,  June  10,   1773,   etc. 

The  full  title  of  Sheridan's  book  is  "  British  Education  ;  or,  the  Source  of  the  Disorders 
of  Great  Britain,  being  an  Essay  towards  proving,  that  the  Immorality,  Ignorance,  and 
false  Taste,  which  so  generally  prevail  are  the  natural  and  necessary  Consequences  of  the 
present  defective  System  of  Education,  with  An  Attempt  to  show  that  a  Revival  of  the 
Art  of  Speaking,  and  the  Study  of  our  own  Language,  might  contribute,  in  a  great  Measure 
to  the  Cure  of  those  Evils."     By  Thomas  Sheridan,  A.  M.,  London,  1756  edition. 

81  Advertised,  Pa.  G.,  Dec,  3,  1747,  by  B.  Franklin;  N.  Y.  G.,  Dec.  11,  1753;  N.  Y.  M., 
June,  1775,  etc. 

83  Advertised,  Pa.  G.,  Sept.  22,  1747,  by  B.  Franklin  ;  N.  Y.  G.,  Nov.  13,  1753,  etc. 

83  Advertised,  N.  Y.  M.,  Sept.  30,  1765  ;  N.  Y.  G.  or  W.  P.  B.,  Oct.  19,  1761 ;  ibid.,  Feb.  11, 
1771 ;  ibid.,  Sept.  10,  1769,  etc. 


he  quotes  Locke  extensively.34  What  is  more  significant  he  drew  up 
his  plan  of  English  education  in  exceedingly  close  conformity  to  one 
striking  passage  in  Turnbull.  No  attempt  is  made  to  use  the  "  deadly 
parallel  " ; 35  but  the  conclusion  is  inevitable  that  Franklin  was  thor- 
oughly familiar  with  Turnbull.  At  any  rate,  every  one  of  the  main 
parts  of  the  academy's  English  program  is  advocated  in  the  same 
order  as  in  TurnbulPs  discussion.  Both  writers  believe  that  gram- 
mar, composition,  declamation,  oratory,  and  the  study  of  English 
classics  are  primarily  for  the  cultivation  of  "  stile,"  and  to  cap  it  all 
the  principal  motive  of  each  is  regard  for  the  various  professions  in 
which  the  mother  tongue  is  to  be  used. 


Four  more  contentions  are  discernible  in  the  educational  treatises 
which  came  to  America  in  the  eighteenth  century.36  The  first  of  these 
is  the  burden  of  learning  Latin.  The  revolt  against  the  extreme  hold 
of  Latin  is  a  very  old  one,  having  as  its  earliest  conspicuous  cham- 
pions Comenius,  Mulcaster,  and  Milton.  An  idea  of  the  unspeakable 
grind  transferred  from  John  Sturm's  Gymnasium  to  the  sixteenth- 
century  grammar  schools  of  England  may  be  seen  by  a  glance  at 
Sturm's  curriculum.  He  required  seven  years  to  be  spent  on  the 
acquirement  of  a  "  pure  Latin  style,"  two  to  be  given  to  "  elegance," 
and  five  collegiate  years  to  be  passed  in  learning  the  art  of  Latin 
speech,  14  years,  with  the  ultimate  goal  of  proficiency  in  writing  and 
speaking  the  Latin  tongue.37 

Comenius,  the  Bohemian  educational  reformer,  1592-1671,  voiced 
one  of  the  earliest  protests  against  Latin  instruction  like  that  of 
Sturm.  Comenius,  to  be  sure,  retained  Latin  as  the  most  valuable 
study,  but  he  would  first  have  the  vernacular  taught,  then  a  neighbor- 
ing modern  tongue,  then  Latin,  Greek,  etc.  He  advocated  as  well 
objective  study  of  the  natural  world.38 

Mulcaster,  1582,  also  raised  his  protest :  "  Is  it  not  a  marvelous 
bondage  to  become  servants  to  one  tongue,  for  learning's  sake,  the 
most  part  of  our  time  .  .  .  whereas  we  may  have  the  very  same 
treasure  in  our  own  tongue,  with  the  gain  of  most  time.  ...  I  love 
Rome,  but  London  better;  I  favor  Italy,  but  England  more;  ...  I 
honor  the  Latin,  but  I  worship  the  English." 39 

Milton,  in  1650,  urges :  "  We  do  amiss  to  spend  seven  or  eight  years 
merely  in  scraping  together  as  much  miserable  Latin  and  Greek  as 

84  Franklin  illustrated  his  "  proposals "  by  extracts  from  Milton,  Locke,  Sheridan, 
Walker,  Rollin,  Turnbull,  "  with  some  others."  In  Smyth,  Life  and  Writings  of  B.  Frank- 
lin, II,  387,  Franklin's  quotations  are  given. 

85  See  Appendix  B.  The  writer  has  seen  no  other  suggestion  that  Franklin  followed 
Turnbull  closely. 

88  Nearly  all  the  other  writers  cited  follow  Locke  very  closely. 
8T  Summary  of  Sturm's  curriculum.     Monroe,  Hist,  of  Ed.,  391. 

88  Comenius,  Great  Didactic,  Laurie,  115. 

89  Elementarie,  pt.  1  ;  Quick,  Ed.  Ref.,  300-2. 


might  be  learned  otherwise  easily  and  delightfully  in  one  year.  .  .  . 
These  are  not  matters  to  be  wrung  from  poor  striplings  like  blood 
out  of  the  nose  or  the  plucking  of  untimely  fruit."  He  refers  to  the 
prevalent  instruction  as  "  those  grammatical  flats  and  shallows,  where 
they  stuck  unreasonably  to  learn  a  few  words  with  lamentable  con- 
struction "  and  as  "  that  assinine  feast  of  sow-thistles  and  brambles, 
which  is  commonly  set  before  them  as  all  the  food  and  entertainment 
of  their  tenderest  and  most  docible  age."  40. 

The  goals  to  which  these  early  reformers  strove  were,  first,  knowl- 
edge to  be  written  in  the  vernacular;  second,  instruction  in  reading 
and  writing  for  the  masses,  in  order  that  this  secular  knowledge,  like 
religious  knowledge  in  the  Bible,  might  be  made  accessible  to  all. 

Before  the  eighteenth-century  agitators  began  work  English  was 
established  in  its  elementary  branches  in  the  schools  and  books  in 
English  teaching  were  widely  printed;  that  is,  the  two  goals  of 
Comenius,  Mulcaster,  and  Milton  were  attained.  Now  began  the  work 
of  a  second  group  of  educational  reformers,  headed  by  the  greatest 
master  of  them  all,  John  Locke.  They  led  the  attack  upon  the  second- 
line  trenches  of  Latin  and  established  the  principle  that  for  the  masses 
a  vernacular  education  of  a  secondary  grade  is  equivalent  to  a  Latin 
education  of  the  same  grade  for  a  privileged  few.  To-day's  fight  is 
for  the  third-line  trench  and  over  the  question,  shall  the  classics 
remain  as  an  important  part  of  the  curriculum  because  of  the  few 
privileged  to  attain  the  highest  culture  ? 

The  newer  leaders,  headed  by  Locke,  sound  the  same  note,  lament- 
ing the  heavy  burden  of  the  Latin-grammar  program.  Locke,  in 
1693,  says: 

When  I  consider  what  ado  is  made  about  learning  a  little  Latin  and  Greek,  how 
many  years  are  spent  in  it,  I  can  hardly  forbear  thinking  that  the  parents  of 
children  still  live  in  fear  of  the  schoolmaster's  rod.  .  .  .  How  else  is  it  possible 
that  a  child  can  be  chained  to  the  oar  seven,  eight,  or  ten  of  the  best  years  of 
his  life,  to  get  a  language  or  two?41 

The  Tatler  of  1710  urges  that  masters  should  teach  pupils  to  use 
English  instead  of  perplexing  them  with  Latin  epistles,  themes,  and 
verses — 

For  can  anything  be  more  absurd  than  our  way  of  proceeding;  ...  to  put 
tender  Wits  into  the  intricate  maze  of  Grammar,  and  a  Latin  Grammar ;  ...  to 
learn  an  unknown  art  by  an  unknown  tongue;  ...  to  carry  them  a  dark  round- 
about way  to  let  them  in  at  the  back  door?  " 

Dr.  Johnson,  Franklin's  friend,  in  the  preface  of  his  dictionary,  said : 
"A  whole  life  can  not  be  spent  upon  syntax  and  etymology,  and  even 
a  whole  lifetime  would  not  be  sufficient."  43 

40  Wynne,  op.  cit.,  5-8. 

41  Wynne,  op.  cit.,  29  ;  Locke,  Thoughts  Concerning  Education. 
«  Tatler,  IV.,  No.  234. 

43  Johnson,  Diet,  of  Eng.  Language,  I,  preface,  13. 


It  may  be  worth  while  to  dwell  upon  the  influence  of  the  Spectator 
and  Tatler,44  because  Addison  and  Steele  speak  out  boldly  for  English 

Addison  and  Steele  enjoyed  popularity  on  both  sides  of  the  Atlantic. 
Says  Steele: 

I  found  .  .  .  the  principal  defect  of  our  English  discipline  to  lie  in  the  Initia- 
tory part,  which,  although  it  needs  the  greatest  care  and  skill,  is  usually  left  to 
the  conduct  of  those  blind  guides,  Chance  and  Ignorance.  ...  I  could  furnish 
you  with  a  catalogue  of  English  books  .  .  .  wherein  you  could  not  find  ten  lines 
together  of  "common  Grammar,"  which  is  a  necessary  consequence  of  our  mis- 
management in  that  province.  .  .  .  The  liberal  Arts  and  Sciences  are  all  beauti- 
ful as  the  Graces;  nor  has  Grammar,  the  severe  mother  of  all,  so  frightful  a 
face  of  her  own ;  it  is  the  vizard  put  upon  it,  that  scares  children.  She  is  made 
to  speak  hard  words  that,  to  them,  sound  like  conjuring.  Let  her  talk  intel- 
ligibly and  they  will  listen  to  her. 

In  this,  I  think  ...  we  show  ourselves  true  Britons,  always  overlooking  our 
natural  advantages.  It  has  been  the  practice  of  the  wisest  nations  to  learn 
their  own  language  by  stated  rules  to  avoid  the  confusion  that  would  follow 
from  leaving  it  to  vulgar  use.  Our  English  Tongue  ...  is  the  most  determined 
in  its  construction,  and  reducible  to  the  fewest  rules. 

To  speak  and  write  without  absurdity  the  language  of  one's  country  is  com- 
mendable in  persons  in  all  stations,  and  to  some  indispensably  necessary.  To 
this  purpose,  I  would  recommend  above  all  things  the  having  a  Grammar  of  our 
mother  tongue  first  taught  in  our  schools.  .  .  .  Where  is  such  grammar  to  be 
had?  ...  It  is  our  good  fortune  to  have  such  a  Grammar  with  notes  now  in 
the  press,  to  be  published  next  Term. 

In  a  footnote  Wynne  adds :  "  This,  I  suppose,  was  the  English 
Grammar  published  by  John  Brightland,45  with  the  approbation  of 
Isaac  Bicherstaff,  the  edition  of  which  was  published  48  in  1726." 
This  reference  to  the  Brightland  grammar  leads  to  the  supposition 
that  Steele  was  the  author. 


The  second  note,  frequently  found  in  the  treatises  on  education  of 
the  eighteenth  century,  is  that  English  is  the  language  of  daily  use. 
This  was  the  burden  of  the  Tatler  just  cited.  Locke  also  would  have 
grammar  learned  by  those  whose  main  business  is  with  the  tongue  or 
pen,  but — 

it  must  be  the  grammar  of  his  own  tongue ;  of  the  language  he  uses ;  ...  it  will 
be  a  matter  of  wonder,  why  young  gentlemen  are  forced  to  learn  the  grammar  of 
foreign  and  dead  languages,  and  are  never  once  told  of  the  grammar  of  their 
own  tongue.  .  .  .  Nor  is  their  own  language  ever  proposed  to  them  as  worthy 
their  care  and  cultivating;   though  they  have  daily  use  of  it,   and  are  not 

**  Franklin  undoubtedly  drew  his  first  interest  in  the  teaching  of  English  from  his  close 
study  and  imitation  of  these,  as  narrated  in  his  autobiography. 
"Tatler,  IV,  No.  234. 
48  Wynne,  op.  cit.,  177-9. 


seldom  .  .  .  judged  of  by  their  handsome  or  awkward  way  of  expressing  them- 
selves in  lt.*T  .  .  .  And  since  'tis  English  that  an  Englishman  will  have  constant 
use  of,  that  is  the  language  he  should  chiefly  cultivate;  ...  to  mind  what  Eng- 
lish his  pupil  speaks  or  writes  is  below  the  dignity  of  one  bred  up  among  Greek 
and  Latin,  tho'  he  have  but  little  of  them  himself.  These  are  the  learned  lan- 
guages, fit  only  for  learned  men  to  meddle  with  and  teach;  English  is  the 
language  of  the  illiterate  vulgar.48 

A  student  "  ought  to  study  grammar,  among  the  other  helps  of 
speaking  well ;  but  it  must  be  the  grammar  of  his  own  tongue  .  .  . 
that  he  may  understand  his  own  country  speech  nicely  and  speak  it 
properly ;  and  to  this  purpose  grammar  is  necessary  but  it  is  the  gram- 
mar only  of  their  own  proper  tongues"  49 

In  1769,  in  the  Boston  Chronicle,  Joseph  Ward  strikes  the  note  of 
English  as  of  daily  value  to  the  masses  as  follows : 

The  subscriber  has  opened  an  English  Grammar  School  in  King  Street.  ... 
The  understanding  the  English  Grammar  is  so  necessary  for  those  who  have  not 
a  Liberal  Education,  and  as  it  will  greatly  facilitate  the  learning  any  other 
Language,  such  a  school  is  said  by  the  Literati  to  be  very  much  wanted  in  this 
town.  .  .  .M 

In  1769  Kichard  Carew  asserts : 

Whatsoever  grace  any  other  language  carrieth  in  verse  or  prose,  in  tropes  or 
metaphors,  in  echoes  or  agonominations,  they  may  all  be  lively  and  exactly 
represented  in  ours.  Will  you  have  Plato's  verse?  Read  Sir  Thomas  Smith; 
The  Ionic?  Sir  Thomas  More;  Cicero's?  Ascham;  Varro?  Chaucer;  Demos- 
thenes? Sir  John  Cheke  .  .  .  Will  you  read  Virgil?  Take  the  Earl  of 
Surrey;  Catullus?  Shakespeare  and  Marlowe's  fragment;  Ovid?  Daniel; 
Lucian?  Spencer;  Martial?  Sir  John  Da  vies  and  others.  Will  you  have 
all  in  all  for  prose  and  verse?    Take  the  miracle  of  our  age,  Sir  Philip  Sidney.61 

We  have  seen  above  that  Franklin  in  his  "  proposals  "  stressed  the 
idea  of  "  Regard  being  had  for  the  several  Professions  for  which  they  <  ^ 
(the  students)  are  intended."  English  is  the  instrument  of  trade,  of 
law,  pulpit,  and  Senate  Chamber.  Locke  pointed  out  that  a  man  is 
often  judged  by  his  skillful  or  awkward  use  of  his  native  language. 
Wynne's  books  spread  the  teaching  of  Locke,  Milton,  and  Steele  in 
America,  and  Turnbull  follows  Milton  and  Locke  with  almost  the 
identical  argument. 

Milton  said : 

Tho  a  linguist  should  pride  himself  to  have  all  the  tongues  Babel  cleft  the 
world  into :  yet  if  he  had  not  studied  the  solid  things  in  them  as  well  as  words 
and  lexicons,  he  were  nothing  so  much  to  be  estimated  a  learned  man,  as  any 
yeoman  or  tradesman  competently  wise  in  his  own  dialect  only.62 

«T  Wynne,  op.  cit.,  60-2. 

»  Sparks,  op  cit.,  II,  137-138.     Cited  by  Franklin  in  his  "  proposals." 

<B  Footnote  in  Franklin's  "  Observations,"  Sparks,  op.  cit. ;  also  Wynne,  252. 

60  B.  G.,  Apr.  20,  1769. 

61  Quoted,  Watson,  Beginnings,  11,  from  "  Elizabethan  Critical  Essays,"  Gregory  Smith, 
2,  293. 

M  Wynne,  op.  cit.,  4,  5. 


Locke  expressed  the  obverse  idea  that  "  nothing  can  be  more  ridicu- 
lous than  that  a  father  should  waste  his  own  money  and  his  son's 
time  in  setting  him  to  learn  the  Roman  language,  when  at  the  same 
time  he  designs  him  for  a  trade."  53  Turnbull  follows  in  the  same 
vein :  "  Few  think  their  children  qualified  for  a  trade  till  they  have 
been  whipped  at  a  Latin  School  for  five  or  six  years  to  learn  a  little  of 
that  which  they  are  obliged  to  forget."  54 

The  demand  for  practical  instruction  is  most  vigorously  demanded 
by  Turnbull  as  follows : 

Can  any  one  hesitate  to  choose  whether  that  his  son  should  early  be  acquainted 
with  men,  manners,  and  things,  or  that  he  should  early  be  a  profound  linguist. 
.  .  .  What  man  of  sense  .  .  .  would  not  rather  have  his  son  at  fourteen  toler- 
ably skilled  in  geography  and  history,  acquainted  with  the  true  method  of 
unravelling  nature,  .  .  .  and  able  to  express  truths  of  these  classes  with  pro- 
priety and  taste,  in  his  own  language  .  .  .  though  he  know  little  Latin?55 

Sheridan,  in  a  reductio  ad  absurdum  upon  the  utility  of  classical 
learning,  tells  of  the  "  ingenious  and  learned  translator  of  Milton's 
Paradise  Lost  .  .  .  now  starving  on  a  poor  curacy  in  a  remote  part 
of  the  country.  And  shall  many  fathers  expect  that  their  sons  will  be 
able  to  outdo  him  in  learning,  or  have  nobler  opportunities  of  display- 
ing it?"56 

Thomas  Byerley,  author  of  the  second  grammar  published  in 
America,  1779,  in  the  same  year  set  up  a  grammar  school  in  New 
York.  In  his  elaborate  advertisements,  after  setting  forth  the  neces- 
sity of  giving  up  the  study  of  Latin  for  the  purpose  of  learning  Eng- 
lish grammar,  he  quotes  Locke  in  the  passage  just  cited  above  on  the 
futility  of  making  a  boy  learn  the  Eoman  language  when  he  is  at  the 
same  time  designed  for  a  trade.57 

Even  more  vigorously  does  William  Watson  speak  of  his  school  in 
Charleston,  S.  C,  1769,  "  for  the  Instruction  of  Youth  in  the  Eng- 
lish Language  .  .  .  grammatically.  .  .  .  The  utility  of  such  an 
undertaking  is  too  obvious  to  need  any  Recommendation."  He  goes 
on  to  say  that  Latin  and  Greek  are  of  "  little  consequence  to  those  who 
spend  their  days  in  rural,  mercantile,  or  mechanical  Employments." 
He  dwells  on  the  inutility  of  spending  "  six  or  seven  years  in  the 
study  of  dead  languages.  ...  If  knowledge  can  be  obtained  .  .  . 
without  the  dry  and  tedious  process  ...  it  may  not  be  a  useless 
attempt.  .  .  .  Such  an  attempt  as  this  the  subscriber  humbly  pre- 
sumes to  make."  58 

One  of  the  earliest  notices  of  an  English  school  is  William  Gough's, 
a   plantation  school  near  Charleston,   in   1742.     "William  Gough 

63  Ibid.,  46.  Be  Sheridan,  op.  cit,  222-3. 

M  Turnbull,  op.  cit.,  4.  <"  N.  Y.  G.  and  W.  M.,  Aug.  23,  1773. 

"Turnbull,  op.  cit.,  260.  «»  S.  C.  G.,  June  24,  1769. 


gives  notice  that  he  is  now  settled  entirely  at  the  Plantation  of  Mr. 
James  Taylor,  and  continues  to  teach  the  several  most  useful  branches 
of  learning  (in  the  English  Tongue)  according  to  the  London  Method, 
whereby  Youth  may  be  qualified  for  Business  by  land  or  Sea."  59 


We  have  pointed  out  that  the  plans  for  Franklin's  academy  matured 
while  Philadelphia,  and,  indeed,  the  colonies  at  large,  were  under  the 
influence  of  Whitefield's  oratory.  The  emphasis  of  the  Philadelphia 
program  upon  oral  English  may  have  received  its  immediate  inspira- 
tion from  that  source.  But  there  was  a  far-reaching  appeal  for  pub- 
lic speaking  of  greater  significance  than  the  inspiration  of  any  one 
man.  This  larger  appeal  runs  through  the  educational  treatises  which 
both  in  England  and  in  America  led  the  eighteenth-century  move- 
ment for  the  vernacular.  Indeed,  the  discussion  which  follows  shows 
that  the  movement  to  place  vernacular  on  a  par  with  Latin  found  its 
early  strength  in  two  correlated  arguments:  First,  that  the  cultiva- 
tion of  a  style  for  pure  speech  would  assist  in  formulating,  standard- 
izing, and  preserving  the  English  tongue;  second,  that  in  the  new 
world,  with  its  conglomeration  of  tongues,  the  schools  must  make  an 
effort  to  keep  the  vernacular  free  from  the  influence  of  other  lan- 
guages and  to  establish  English  as  the  standard  language  of  the  new 

A  pretentious  elaboration  of  the  first  of  these  arguments  is  the 
treatise  of  Thomas  Sheridan.  His  large  volume  of  534  pages,  dedi- 
cated to  the  Earl  of  Chesterfield,  prime  minister  and  famous  orator, 
develops  the  thesis  that  a  "  Revival  of  the  Art  of  Speaking,  and  the 
study  of  our  own  Language,  might  contribute  to  the  Cure  of  that  .  .  . 
Ignorance  and  False  Taste,  which  so  generally  prevail." 60 

In  his  address  to  Lord  Chesterfield,  Sheridan  says :  "  The  scheme 
is :  A  design  to  revive  the  long- lost  art  of  oratory  and  to  correct,  ascer- 
tain, and  fix  the  English  Language." 61  In  almost  every  chapter 
Sheridan  acknowledges  his  indebtedness  to  Milton,  Swift,  Locke,  and 
Addison.  Out  of  the  writings  of  these  men  Sheridan  has  judiciously 
extracted  those  passages  which  champion  the  vernacular,  especially 
oral  instruction  in  it. 

Two  postulates  underlie  Sheridan's  argument:  First,  the  causes 
which  stressed  Latin  and  Greek  dedicated  so  vast  a  portion  of  time  to 

69  S\  C.  G.,  Feb.  13,  1742. 

Gough  does  not  advertise  grammar.  "  Reading,  Writing,  and  Arithmetic  in  all  its 
Branches  "  are  his  principal  subjects.  Before  1750,  and,  indeed  in  all  the  advertisements 
up  to  1775,  arithmetic  in  all  its  branches,  as  an  intensively  practical  subject,  appears 
almost  invariably.  The  appeal  of,  immediate  practicality,  found  effective  in  arithmetic, 
gradually  creeps  into  the  announcements  of  English  speaking  and  grammar. 

60  Sheridan,  op.  cit.,  title  page. 

w  Ibid.,  preface,  VI. 


the  acquisition  of  skill  in  those  languages  and  at  the  same  time  the 
pupil's  own  was  totally  neglected  and  no  longer  of  any  force. 

The  learned  languages  are  no  longer  the  sole  repositaries  of  knowledge; 
.  .  .  the  English  is  become  an  universal  magazine  ...  of  all  wisdom.  .  .  .  Add 
to  -this,  that  we  have  many  excellent  writers  of  our  own,  besides,  the  language 
itself  has  been  so  much  enlarged  and  improved.  ...  To  state  the  account  in 
short  between  our  forefathers  and  us,  they  shewed  great  wisdom  and  good  sense 
in  making  the  learned  languages  the  chief  study  in  their  days  (time  of  Refor- 
mation) because,  however  round  about  the  way,  knowledge  was  then  to  be 
acquired  in  none  other;  and  because  our  own,  then  poor  and  uncultivated,  could 
be  in  no  other  way  enriched  or  refined.  .  .  . M 

English  is  the  language  most  universally  read  by  Englishmen." 

The  second  postulate  is  that  as  yet,  say  in  1750,  English  had  no 
fixed  standard.  Sheridan  complains  of  general  "  bad  taste  which  is 
allowed  to  prevail,"  both  in  writing  and  speaking,  on  the  part  of  pub- 
lic men,  of  "  the  amazing  number  of  wretched  pamphlets,"  and  of 
"  those  heaps  of  trash,  which  are  constantly  exposed  to  sale  in  the 
windows  of  booksellers,  like  unripe  fruit,  greedily  devoured  by  green- 
sickness apetites,  and  which  fill  the  mind  with  crudities."  Quoting 
Steele,  Sheridan  says :  "  I  would  engage  to  furnish  you  with  a  cata- 
logue of  English  books  .  .  .  within  seven  years  past  .  .  .  wherein 
you  could  not  find  ten  lines  together  of  common  grammar  or  of 
common  sense."  64 

Upon  these  two  postulates  Sheridan  constructs  his  plea  that  ora- 
tory fixed  the  standards  of  the  ancient  languages  and  perpetuated 
them ;  that  the  other  nations  of  Europe — 

the  French,  Italians,  Spaniards,  etc.,  .  .  .  after  having  enriched  and  illustrated 
their  several  languages  by  the  aids  and  lights  borrowed  from  the  Greek  and 
Roman,  employed  the  utmost  industry  to  refine,  correct,  and  ascertain  (make 
certain)  them  by  fixed  and  stated  rules.  .  .  .  The  English  alone  left  theirs  to  the 
power  of  chance  or  caprice ;  insomuch  that  it  is  within  a  few  months  that  even 
a  dictionary  has  been  produced  here.65  Whilst  in  all  the  others  many  excellent 
grammars  and  dictionaries  have  long  since  been  published." 

Both  the  ancients  and  all  moderns  but  the  English  studied  their 
own  languages  with  respect  to  what  is  pure  and  correct  in  style  and  in 

What  shall  we  say  to  our  practice  so  contrary  to  that  of  polished  nations  .  .  . 
(we)  who  take  great  pains  in  studying  all  languages  but  our  own?  Who  are 
very  nice  and  curious  in  our  choice  of  preceptors  for  the  ancient  and  modern 
tongues,  yet  suffer  our  children  to  be  vitiated  in  the  very  first  principles  of  their 
own.  Is  it  because  that  the  knowledge  of  our  language  is  so  easily  acquired, 
that  it  can  scarce  be  missed?    This  surely  can  not  be  said  when  it  is  universally 

02  Ibid.,  217-9. 

63  Ibid.,  228. 

M  Ibid.,  227,  Tatler  IV,  No.  230. 

85  This  refers  to  Johnson's  Dictionary  and  fixes  the  date  for  Sheridan's  first  edition. 

86  Ibid.,  212-3. 


allowed  that  there  are  hardly  any  who  speak  or  write  it  correctly.     Is  it  because 
we  have  less  use  for  it  than  for  any  other?  6T 

When  we  consider  that  after  Greek  and  Roman  languages  were  brought  to  a 
standard  of  perfection,  when  their  youth  had  the  advantage  of  established 
invariable  rules  upon  which  to  found  their  knowledge;  of  able  preceptors  to 
instruct  and  guide  them;  of  the  noblest  examples  and  most  perfect  patterns 
for  their  instruction ;  .  .  .  shall  we  who  have  none  of  their  advantages,  without 
any  pains  or  application  expect  to  have  a  competent  knowledge  of  one,  which 
in  its  present  state  is  far  more  difficult  to  be  learned  than  theirs?  This  omis- 
sion in  our  education  ...  is  wonderful.'58 

And  the  supreme  means  of  establishing  this  uniformity  of  fixing 
and  ascertaining  the  tongue  is,  according  to  Sheridan,  the  fostering 
of  the  "  ancient  art  of  oratory  " ;  by  this  means  "  our  Shakespeare  and 
our  Milton  "  will  not  be  suffered  "  to  become  two  or  three  centuries 
hence  what  Chaucer  is  at  present,  the  study  of  only  a  few  poring 
antequarians,  and  in  an  age  or  two  more  victims  of  bookworms." 
Sheridan  completes  his  argument  with  the  curious  fallacy  that  the 
orators  of  a  nation  are  its  sound  philosophers ;  that  they  perpetuate  a 
language;  that  upon  them  and  their  art  depends  the  safety  of  their 

It  is  highly  significant  that  Sheridan  dedicated  his  work  to  Ches- 
terfield, an  eloquent  orator  of  his  day.  Moreover,  Chesterfield  had 
made  a  public  proposal  to  the  provost  and  fellows  of  the  University 
of  Dublin,  while  he  was  viceroy  of  Ireland,  "  for  the  endowment  of 
proper  lectures  and  exercises  in  the  Art  of  Reading  and  Speaking."  T0 

The  project  failed.  In  his  preface  Sheridan  comments  upon  an 
innovation  recently  made  in  Eaton  by  Barnard  and  at  Rugby  by 
Markham,  by  which,  "  amongst  many  other  good  customs  .  .  .  pro- 
nunciation and  the  art  of  speaking  are  now  made  effectual  points."  71 
This  appears  to  indicate  that  the  English  schools  were  not  many  years 
in  advance  of  the  American. 

Only  one  of  Sheridan's  arguments  is  likely  to  have  had  a  strong 
appeal  in  America.  Americans  had  no  literature  of  their  own;  they 
were  not  primarily  interested  in  the  establishment  of  a  standard 
style  of  literature;  the  appeal  for  the  preservation  of  the  language 
of  Shakespeare  and  Milton  was  remote  from  the  interests  of  the  new 
land.  The  main  interest  of  Americans  would  lie  in  the  substance  of 
Sheridan's  appeal,  not  in  the  reasons  for  it.  He  wished  to  teach  ora- 
tory ;  he  eulogized  public  speech ;  he  lauded  correct  pronunciation  and 
fluent  oral  address.  This  would  appeal  especially  to  Americans,  with 
their  democratic  town  meetings,  their  traditions  of  pulpit  leadership, 
and  their  necessity  of  oral  communication  in  general.     Moreover, 

"  Sheridan,  op.  cit.,  195-196.  ■  Ibid.,  preface,  XVII. 

«Ibid.,  196-7.  "Ibid.,  XIV. 

"Ibid..  XXIX. 


statesmanship  in  the  local  governments  and  provincial  councils  was 
the  goal  of  parents  for  their  children.  The  profession  of  the  law  was 
increasing  in  popularity,  and  in  any  and  all  lines  of  activity  effective 
speech  was  looked  upon  as  a  prime  requisite. 

Private  schoolmasters  were  not  slow  to  realize  the  popularity  of 
this  appeal.  Advertisements  of  the  day  are  replete  with  it.  For 
example,  "  The  boys  learning  oratory  make  orations  every  fort- 
night " ; 72  "I  intend  teaching  the  English  language  with  proper 
accent  and  emphasis  " ; 73  "  parents  .  .  .  may  depend  on  having  their 
children  ...  diligently  instructed  in  grammatical  English,  with  due 
attention  to  emphasis,  pause,  cadence,  and  puerile  declamation  " ; 74 
"  weekly  exercise  of  reading  the  English  authors  with  propriety  and 
grace  " ; 75  "  the  Boys,  as  soon  as  they  are  capable  to  be  exercised  in 
pronouncing  Orations  " ; 76  "  nor  will  the  true  pronounciation,  the 
proper  stops,  emphasis,  accent  and  quantity  be  neglected  " ; 77  "  Pains 
will  be  taken  to  form  them  early  for  Public  Speaking  " ; 78  "  Great 
pains  are  taken  to  cultivate  the  Art  of  Public  Speaking,  which  is 
necessary  in  order  to  shine  in  the  Senate,  at  the  bar,  or  in  the  pul- 
pit " ; 79  bo}^s  who  have  "  a  taste  and  talents  for  Oratory  may  be  taught 
rhetoric  and  to  pronounce  with  due  action  and  diction."  80  The  first 
advertisement  of  King's  College  (Columbia),  1754,  added  to  the 
learned  languages  "  reasoning,  writing,  and  speaking  eloquently."  81 

An  exact  expression  of  this  idea,  that  neglect  of  vernacular  gram- 
mar caused  incorrect  speech,  which  had  been  taken  verbatim  from 
Sheridan  or  paraphrased  from  him,  is  found  in  the  announcement  of 
William  Johnson,  who  set  up  an  English  grammar  school  on  Union 
Street,  Charleston,  S.  C,  in  1767.     He  says : 

It  is  a  common,  but  too  well-grounded  complaint  that  a  grammatical  study  of 
our  own  language  seldom  makes  any  part  of  the  ordinary  method  of  instructing 
youth.  ...  To  this  neglect  may  justly  be  attributed  the  great  incorrectness  of 
speech,  observable  amongst  almost  all  ranks  of  people  ...  to  remedy  which 
...  is  the  point  the  proposer  has  in  view.82 

There  was  a  growing  realization  that  the  Nation  ought  to  have  one 
common  language ;  that  the  best  national  life  could  not  obtain  if  Eng- 
lish, German,  French,  Dutch,  Scandinavian  languages — not  to  men- 
tion others — should  each  remain  the  speech  of  a  portion  of  the  people. 
Moreover,  the  mingling  of  so  many  tongues  must  certainly  result  in 

"Joseph  Garner,  Pa.  G.,  July  3,  1765. 

78  Mary  McAllister,  Pa.  G.,  June  4,  1707. 

"John  Hefferman,  Pa.  G.,  Sept.  14,  1774. 

75  Witherspoon,  Princeton,  N.  J.,  Pa    J.,  Mar.  2,  1769. 

78  Jacob  Giles,  Mount  Pleasant,  Md.,  Md.  G.,  July  19,  1765. 

77  Grainmaticaster,  Pa.  G.,  Oct.  29,  1767. 

78  James  Thompson,  Charleston,  S.  C,  S.  C.  G.,  Dec.  10,  1772. 

79  Somerset  Academy,  Maryland,  Va   G.,  Feb.  23,  1769. 

80  Andrew  D'Ellicent,  Charlestown,  S.  C,  S.  C.  G.,  May  20,  1766. 

81  N.  Y.  G.  and  W.  P.  B.,  May  31,  1754. 
83  S.  C.  G.,  June  15,  1767. 


the  corruption  of  them  all,  and  especially  of  the  dominant  one.  the 
English.  It  is  certain  that  this  feeling  was  present  in  the  minds  of 
the  authorities  in  the  College  and  Academy  of  Philadelphia,  inas- 
much as  Pennsylvania  had  an  exceedingly  composite  population.  In 
1758  Provost  Smith,  the  chief  Latinist  against  whom  Franklin 
inveighs,  wrote  an  article,  which  appeared  in  the  American  Magazine 
in  October  of  that  year,  entitled  "Account  of  the  College  and  Acad- 
emy of  Philadelphia."    He  says : 

■Oratory,  correct  Speaking  and  Writing  the  Mother  Tongue  is  a  branch  of  edu- 
cation too  much  neglected  in  all  our  English  Seminaries,  as  is  often  visible  in 
the  public  performance  of  some  of  our  most  learned  men.  But  in  the  circum- 
stances of  this  province,  such  a  neglect  would  have  been  still  more  inexcusable 
than  in  any  other  part  of  the  British  dominions.  For  we  are  so  great  a  mixture 
of  people,  from  almost  all  corners  of  the  world,  necessarily  speaking  a  variety  of 
languages  and  dialects,  that  true  pronunciation  and  writing  of  our  own  language 
might  soon  be  lost  among  us  without  such  a  previous  care  to  preserve  in  the 
rising  generations.83 

A  schoolmaster  of  New  York,  advertising  an  English  grammar 
school  in  the  consistory  room  of  the  French  church,  says :  "  The  Eng- 
lish Grammar,  .  .  .  the  learning  of  it  being  indispensably  necessary 
in  an  English  country,  I  intend  to  teach  to  all  my  scholars."  84 

Benjamin  Franklin  himself  voices  this  appeal: 

Why  should  you  .  .  .  leave  it  (America)  to  be  taken  by  foreigners  of  all 
nations  and  languages,  who  by  their  numbers  may  drown  and  stifle  the  English 
which  otherwise  would  probably  become  in  the  course  of  two  centuries  the  most 
extensive  language  in  the  world.  .  .  ." 

It  appears  that  we  have  now  reached  the  heart  of  the  primary  cause 
which  forwarded  the  study  of  English  grammar.  A  movement,  in 
the  words  of  Sheridan  cited  above,  "  to  refine,  correct,  and  ascertain 
(make  certain)  the  English  language  by  fixed  and  stated  rules  "  is 
essentially  grammatical.  Samuel  Johnson's  dictionary,  and  others, 
standardized  English  diction.  Sheridan  spoke  the  truth  when  he 
said  that  the  English  needed  "  the  advantage  of  established  and 
invariable  rules "  upon  which  to  establish  and  perpetuate  the 

The  very  prevalence  of  illiteracy  in  the  public  and  private  speech 
of  the  eighteenth  century  demanded  the  study  of  grammar.  Granted 
that  the  mother  tongue  was  more  useful  and  less  laborious  than  Latin, 
granted  that  it  was  desirable  to  speak  and  write  well,  granted  that 
Dil worth,  Greenwood,  Lowth,  and  the  British  Grammar  had  reduced 
English  to  w  established  and  invariable  rules,"  it  seems  to  have  fol- 
lowed with  irresistible  logic  that  the  schools  must  teach  English 

"Montgomery,  op.  cit.,  520-9. 

M  N.  Y.  G.  and  W.  P.  B.,  June  5,  1766. 

88  Letter  to  Wm.  Strahan,  Passy,  Aug.  19,  1785.     Sparks,  op.  cit.,  II,  131. 

60258°— 22 5 


grammar.  Hence  we  find  that  every  one  of  the  schoolmasters  cited 
in  a  previous  paragraph  as  teaching  oratory  also  taught  grammar. 
Are  we  not  safe,  then,  in  saying  that  English  grammar  came  into 
the  curriculum  primarily  as  a  result  of  the  popularity  of  the  teaching 
of  public  speaking  and  secondarily  as  the  result  of  a  desire  to  make 
rising  generations  familiar  with  "  fixed  and  stated  rules"? 

As  a  corollary,  the  study  of  English  as  a  language  came  as  an  anti- 
dote for  the  variety  of  languages  spoken  by  early  settlers,  especially 
in  the  middle  colonies.  It  is  perhaps  more  accurate  to  say  that  it  was 
an  attempt  to  keep  English  the  dominant  language  of  the  new 

HIGHER   EDUCATION   FOR   THE   MASSES   IN   1650   AND   IN   1750. 

Massachusetts  and  her  sister  colonies  inherited  the  idea  of  educa- 
tion for  leadership.  The  grammar  schools  of  England,  prototypes  of 
the  higher  schools  set  up  in  New  England  by  the  laws  of  1647  and 
1650,  were  planned  distinctly  for  an  intellectual,  educational,  and 
political  aristocracy.  The  society  from  which  the  first  settlers  came 
was  distinctly  a  class  society.  Many  of  the  Pilgrim  Fathers  and  their 
immediate  successors  from  England  came  from  the  smaller  landed 
gentry  in  the  mother  country.  Moreover,  the  first  settlers,  although 
apparently  possessing  a  democratic  form  of  government,  character- 
ized in  local  affairs  by  the  town  meeting,  were  in  reality  controlled  by 
a  relatively  small  group  of  leaders.  These  men,  as  we  have  seen,  were 
clergymen,  but  their  authority  and  influence  extended  over  almost 
every  aspect  of  life.  To  perpetuate  this  leadership  Harvard  College 
was  founded  only  eight  years  after  the  settling  of  Massachusetts  Bay. 
To  the  college,  with  its  inherited  curriculum  of  the  classics,  must  be 
sent  the  more  promising  youth,  prepared  either  under  the  private 
tutorship  of  some  clergyman  or  in  a  suitable  school.  This  is  the  origin 
of  the  grammar  school  in  America. 

Given  a  grammar  school,  some  means  must  be  provided  for  the 
preliminary  education  considered  necessary  for  entrance.  This  was 
provided  either  by  dame  schools  or  by  the  reading  schools  or  by  gram- 
mar schools.  Along  with  this  idea  of  higher  education  for  leadership 
there  existed  a  second  idea.  This  was  that  all  citizens  must  be  taught 
to  read  the  Scriptures  and  to  understand  the  capital  laws  of  the 
country.  The  idea  of  universal  education  grew  out  of  a  combination 
of  these  two  purposes.  Briefly,  universal  education  in  1650  meant 
universal  ability  to  read,  possibly  to  write  and  cipher,  and  widespread 
opportunity  to  train  leaders.  • 

By  the  middle  of  the  next  century  a  somewhat  different  idea  of 
universal  education  was  dawning.  Various  causes  had  reduced  the 
importance  of  religious  leaders.    The  rough  life  of  the  new  continent 



d  brought  out  native  qualities  of  leadership,  undeveloped  by  educa- 
tion. The  ancient  classics  did  not  hew  the  forests,  blaze  pathways 
into  the  wilderness,  nor  fight  back  Indians.  A  Benjamin  Franklin, 
forced  at  13  to  forego  the  higher  schools  of  Boston,  by  sheer  native 
merit  had  made  himself  an  influential  man.  Many  lesser  Franklins 
had  raised  themselves  in  various  settlements.  Just  as  on  the  Ameri- 
can frontiers  of  the  early  nineteenth  century  a  vigorous  and  robust 
democracy  seemed  to  produce  and  develop  Jacksons  and  Lincolns,  so 
100  years  earlier  kindred  causes  were  at  work  in  New  York,  Penn- 
sylvania, Maryland,  and  the  rest.  No  longer  did  it  count  primarily 
what  a  man  knew.  What  he  could  do  was  far  more  important.  In 
short,  after  1650,  100  years  of  frontier  life  had  demonstrated  that 

i  suitable  leaders  were  forthcoming  in  all  aspects  of  life,  except  possibly 

!  the  ministry,  irrespective  of  a  classical  education. 

If  this  be  true,  when  the  frontiersmen  of  the  eighteenth  century 
found  themselves  victors  in  the  first  severe  struggle  with  privations 
and  established  in  somewhat  settled  communities,  they  began  again 
to  think  of  education.86  Their  uncouth  manners  and  dress  were  like 
their  intellectual  life  and  their  speech — strong,  but  coarse.  A  desire 
for  refinement  grew  apace,  if  not  for  themselves,  at  least  for  their 
children.  In  addition,  new  professions  and  occupations  came  into 
prominence  as  the  communities  became  more  stable.  All  these  newer 
professions  were  the  outgrowth  of  the  new  country  itself,  and,  like 
the  needs  which  called  them  forth,  they  were  practical,  everyday 
man-to-man  occupations.  Still  further,  as  always  in  a  new  land, 
statesmanship  offered  an  attractive  field. 

All  of  these  causes  had  grown  out  of  the  soil.  Unschooled  men 
controlled  public  opinion.  This  type  of  society,  living  intensely  in 
the  present,  both  ignorant  and  scornful  of  the  past,  craved  an  educa- 
tion that  would  furnish  direct  help  in  everyday  life.  A  vernacular 
education  of  a  higher  order  than  reading  and  writing,  including  the 
r  practical  branches  of  mathematics,"  the  modern  languages,  history, 
geography,  and,  above  all,  a  mastery  of  the  English  tongue,  was  the 
outcome.  In  short,  the  ideal  of  universal  education  retained  in  1750 
its  central  idea  of  1650- — equal  opportunity  for  all ;  but  there  had  come 
in  a  noteworthy  enlargement  of  it.  In  1750  no  American  was  pre- 
destined for  a  high  rank  in  life;  out  of  the  masses  themselves  were 
to  come  the  leaders;  a  practical  education  for  all  was  to  open  the  way. 
On  the  crest  of  this  wave  the  mother  tongue  was  carried  to  the  fore- 
most place  in  American  education. 

••Franklin,  Autobiography,  177. 



Several  lines  of  investigation  have  been  advanced  to  enable  us  to 
answer  the  questions :  When,  where,  why,  and  by  whom  English  gram- 
mar made  its  first  appearance  in  the  curricula  of  American  schools. 
Conclusions  reached  are  as  follows: 

1.  Textbooks  in  English  grammar  do  not  seem  to  have  been 
imported  until  about  1750.  Dil worth's  was  published  in  England  in 
1740  and  had  its  first  American  reprint  in  1747.87 

Dilworth's  was  introduced  primarily  as  a  speller.  After  1750  there 
is  considerable  evidence  that  Greenwood's  and  several  other  British 
grammars  made  their  way  into  the  colonies. 

2.  There  were  at  least  two  grammars  written  and  published  in 
America  before  the  [Revolution — Johnson's  and  Byerley's.  Consid- 
ering the  rush  of  American  texts  in  grammar  after  1784,88  this  early 
scarcity  is  strong  negative  evidence  to  the  effect  that  attention  to 
grammar  was  relatively  insignificant  before  the  appearance  of  Web- 
ster's first  book  in  1784.  In  addition,  seven  grammars  by  English 
authors  were  reprinted  in  America  before  1784.  Our  estimate  places 
the  number  of  texts  before  Webster's,  both  native  and  imported,  at  10. 
Of  these  Dilworth's  was  the  only  one  available  for  the  schools  in 
large  numbers.  Dilworth's  "  New  Guide,"  although  primarily  a 
speller,  deserves  the  name  of  the  first  American  textbook  in  English 

3.  A  respectable  number  of  private  schools,  of  which  we  have  men- 
tioned 60,  some  of  them  called  English  grammar  schools,  were  offer- 
ing courses  in  "  English,  as  a  language  "  by  1775.  These  schools  began 
to  appear  before  1750 ;  they  were  most  numerous  in  the  middle  colonies, 
in  the  regions  neighboring  to  Philadelphia  Academy,  where  Frank- 
lin's program  of  the  vernacular  struck  a  plane  never  reached  before. 
The  New  England  colonies,  with  the  classics  more  firmly  intrenched, 
resisted  the  innovation  for  two  decades  after  the  middle  colonies  had 
adopted  it. 

4.  A  careful  consideration  of  Franklin's  plan  leads  to  the  conclu- 
sion that  this  English  school,  preceding  any  general  importation  or 
publication  in  America  of  textbooks  in  grammar,  deserves  the  honor 
of  setting  a  positive  example  of  a  full  vernacular  program  of  secon- 
dary grade  and  of  being  imitated  by  masters  tired  of  the  old  type  of 
schools.  Therefore  the  year  1750  is  selected  as  the  date  when  the 
higher  branches  of  the  vernacular,  including  grammar,  entered  seri- 
ously into  American  education.  To  Benjamin  Franklin,  in  this,  as  in 
many  other  respects,  America  owes  a  debt  of  gratitude.  As  his  experi- 
ments in  science  antedated  by  decades  general  school  instruction  in 

87  Wickersham,  in  Pennsylvania,  is  in  error  in  assigning  this  date  as  1757.  Wickersham, 
Hist,  of  Ed.  in  Pa.,  197. 

88  See  Chap.  IV,  p.  80. 


.them,  so  his  experiment  in  vernacular  education  was  more  serviceable 
as  an  example  and  a  model  than  as  an  actual  accomplishment. 

5.  Representative  curricula  of  colleges  and  secondary  schools  show- 
ing the  earliest  appearances  of  grammar  are  in  accord  with  the  infer- 
ences reached  above.  Before  1750  curricula  do  not  show  grammar. 
After  1750  to  1790  first,  private  schools ;  second,  colleges ;  third,  pub- 
lic schools,  seem  to  have  followed  Franklin's  lead.  In  fact,  the  col- 
onies effected  the  independence  of  their  schools  and  colleges  from  the 
exclusive  hold  of  the  classics  contemporaneously  with  their  political 
independence.89  The  latter  separation  was  itself  not  a  sharp  breaking 
off ;  similarly  the  struggle  for  the  supremacy  of  the  vernacular  as  the 
supreme  study  in  the  schools  was  long  protracted.  The  traditions  of 
Latinized  instruction,  which  almost  routed  Franklin's  English  pro- 
gram, although  they  could  no  longer  keep  the  vernacular  in  the  back- 
ground throughout  the  Nation  at  large,  now  did  the  next  best  thing — ■ 
they  Latinized  the  methods  of  teaching  English  grammar.  To  a 
discussion  of  this  Latinizing  process  in  methods  we  now  turn.  If  the 
entrance  of  grammar  was  an  arduous  struggle,  its  emancipation  from 
Latin  methods  was  little  short  of  a  titanic  one. 

6.  In  answer,  then,  to  the  question,  When  ?  the  answer  is  1750,  with 
due  reservation  for  a  few  obscure  earlier  efforts.  Where?  In  the 
middle  colonies,  headed  by  Pennsylvania.  Why?  As  the  core  study 
of  an  English  program  to  supplant  the  classical  program  for  students 
fitting  for  practical  life.  By  whom?  By  Hugh  Jones,  the  first 
American  grammarian ;  by  Waterland,  who  first  taught  grammar  in 
an  American  school;  by  Franklin,  who  projected  the  model  English 
program ;  by  William  Samuel  Johnson,  first  president  of  Columbia, 
the  first  American  to  write  a  grammar  published  in  America  and  the 
first  college  official  to  put  English  on  a  par  with  the  classics  in  a 
college  curriculum. 

This  is  a  far  cry  from  the  credit  which  has  hitherto  been  awarded 
to  Noah  Webster  and  New  England. 

89  Brown  in  his  "  Making  of  Our  Middle  Schools  "  states  that  the  growth  of  nationalism 
and  national  literature  had  little  effect  on  the  schools  ;  that  "  it  took  the  Romantic  Move- 
ment and  the  American  and  French  Revolutions  to  give  the  mother  tongue  an  assured 
position  in  the  program  of  instruction."  Mid.  Sch.,  188.  To  the  present  writer  this 
appears  to  be  only  a  part  of  the  truth  ;  it  is  possibly  a  post  hoc  ergo  propter  hoc.  It 
seems  more  accurate  to  say  that  in  America  all  revolutions,  political,  educational,  and 
possibly  religious,  were  largely  due  to  the  same  fundamental  causes.  In  each  there  is 
revolt  against  outside  authority,  revolt  against  established  traditions,  and  a  determina- 
tion that  the  individual  and  the  nation  have  a  right  to  live,  not  in  the  past  but  in  the 
future,  a  vital,   active,  aggressive  life. 

Chapter  IV. 

The  period  immediately  after  the  Revolution  marks  the  well-nigh 
universal  adoption  of  English  into  the  curricula  of  American  school 
Earlier  sections  have  indicated  that  the  time  was  ripe.  Many  success 
ful  experiments  had  been  made  in  private  schools;  the  Latin  cur 
riculum,  with  its  apparent  unfitness  for  the  intensely  practical  life  of 
the  new  continent,  was  becoming  more  and  more  unpopular;  for  a 
considerable  number  of  years  colleges  had  been  teaching  grammar, 
composition,  and  oratory.  In  fine,  irrespective  of  the  Revolution,  the 
time  had  arrived  when  a  rapid  spread  of  the  subject  was  to  be 
expected.  And  just  as  the  new  national  life  of  England  in  the  six- 
teenth century,  with  the  accompanying  pride  in  its  self-sufficiency, 
brought  forth  a  vigorous  demand  for  the  vernacular,  so  the  national 
independence  of  America  cooperated  powerfully  with  other  causes  in 
transferring  generally  to  the  public  schools  the  higher  branches  of 
the  vernacular.  The  fact  is  that  increased  attention  to  the  English 
language  is  the  most  significant  change  that  occurred  in  the  curricula 
of  the  schools  after  the  States  began  to  recover  from  the  turmoil  and 
disruption  of  war. 


The  entire  history  of  education  in  New  England  up  to  the  end  of 
the  eighteenth  century  seems  to  have  been  preparing  the  way  for  the 
laws  which,  shortly  after  the  Revolution,  placed  English  in  the  cur- 
riculum and  almost,  if  not  quite,  on  a  par  with  Latin.  The  Latin 
curriculum  especially  was  increasingly  unpopular.  Massachusetts, 
Connecticut,  and  New  Hampshire  each  passed  a  series  of  laws  with 
increasing  fines  for  failure  to  keep  open  the  prescribed  schools,90  indi- 
cating a  failure  of  school  spirit  in  New  England.91    This  wTas  referred 

90  In  1647  Massachusetts  levied  a  fine  of  £5  (Rec.  Co.  Mass.  Bay,  II,  203)  ;  in  1671  the 
fine  was  increased  to  £10  (ibid.,  IV,  second  vol.,  486)  ;  in  1683  towns  of  200  families  were 
fined  £20  (ibid.,  V,  414)  ;  in  1692  the  fine  for  failure  to  keep  an  elementary  school  was 
increased  to  £10,  but  the  penalty  for  a  grammar  school  was  not  altered  (Acts  and  Res. 
Pro.  Mass.  Bay,  1,  63)  ;  in  1701  the  fine  was  imposed  on  towns  proportionally  for  the  time 
they  were  delinquent  (ibid.,  470)  ;  and  in  171S  the  fine  was  increased  to  £20  for  towns  of 
150  families,  £40  for  towns  of  200  families  and  £50  for  towns  of  250  families  (ibid.,  II, 

The  series  of  increasing  fines  in  Connecticut  begins  in  1650  (Rec.  Col.  Conn.,  1,  521) 
and  continues  in  1677  (ibid.,  II,  307-8),  in  1678  (ibid.,  Ill,  9),  and  1700  (ibid.,  IV,  331). 

For  New  Hampshire  see  Laws  of  New. Hampshire,  Prov.  Period,  I,  561,  337,  358. 

n  Martin,  Evolution  of  Mass.  Sen.  Sys.,  85. 


RAPID   RISE   OF   GRAMMAR  AFTER  1775.  71 

to  in  the  election  sermon  of  1762  by  Rev.  Thomas  Shephard,  in  which 
he  laments  especially  the  decay  of  the  Latin  schools  preparatory  for 
Harvard.92  While  it  is  true  that  some  of  these  laws  fined  towns  for 
failing  to  support  English  schools,  the  main  inference  is  that  the 
Latin  schools,  set  up  under  the  early  laws  by  a  university  generation, 
were  too  advanced  for  primitive  communities  successfully  to  maintain 
in  operation. 

This  being  the  case,  many  towns  found  that  the  best  way  to  com- 
ply with  the  requirements  for  both  Latin  and  elementary  schools  was 
to  combine  them ;  that  is,  to  provide  a  schoolmaster  qualified  to  give 
instruction  in  both  the  classics  and  the  elementary  branches  of  the 
vernacular.  Records  of  so-called  grammar  schools  in  many  towns 
indicate  that  this  combination  was  effected.  For  example,  Salem  in 
1677  "  agreed  with  Mr.  Eppes  to  teach  all  such  scholars  ...  in  y* 
English,  Latin  and  Greek  Tongue  " ; 93  Nearly  100  years  later,  in 
1752,  the  same  town  found  it  necessary  to  vote  that  each  of  the  boys 
u  who  go  to  the  grammar  school  must  study  Latin  as  well  as  read  and 
write  and  cypher."  94  In  1691  Cambridge  voted  to  engage  a  school- 
master "  to  teach  both  latten  and  english  and  to  write  and  sipher,"  95 
and  in  1679  Watertown  agreed  with  Richard  Norcros  to  teach  for 
three  months  only  "  Iattin  schollurs  and  writturs  .  .  .  and  the  other 
8  munths  .  .  .  both  Iattin  and  inglish  schollurs."  96  Other  towns 
showing  the  combination  of  Latin  and  English  schools  were  Dedham, 
1667; 97   Plymouth,   1725  ;98   and  Braintree,   1690,   which  provided 

n  Felt,  Ann.  of  Salem,  433. 

M  Relation  between  the  Latin  and  the  English  program  is  interestingly  shown  in  the 
history  of  the  schools  of  Salem.  In  1667  records  of  the  town  show  one  school  for  both 
branches  (Felt,  op.  cit.,  434)  ;  in  1713  there  were  separate  schools  called  the  English  and 
the  Latin  schools  (ibid.,  442)  ;  in  1743  the  town  voted  to  combine  the  two  under  a  master 
and  an  usher  (ibid.,  447)  ;  this  act  was  revoked  three  years  later,  1746  (ibid.).  In  1752 
the  town  was  compelled  to  justify  the  existence  of  a  Latin-grammar  school  by  a  special 
act  requiring  that  every  boy,  a  pupil  there,  must  study  Latin  as  well  as  reading,  writing, 
and  arithmetic  (ibid.,  448).  In  1796,  as  a  natural  consequence  of  the  unpopularity  of 
Latin  manifested  in  the  preceding  order,  for  the  first  time  the  records  show  the  English 
master  made  a  peer  of  the  Latin  master  both  in  title  and  salary.  The  town  voted  that 
each  English  master  have  a  salary  of  £150  and  "find  ink"  and  that  the  Latin  master 
have  £130  (ibid.,  456).  In  1801  notice  is  published  that  writing,  arithmetic,  English 
grammar,  composition,  and  geography  are  to  be  taught  in  the  grammar  school  besides 
Latin  and  Greek  (ibid.,  458).  In  other  words,  the  Latin-grammar  school  is  now  made 
over  into  an  English  school,  with  the  classics  secondary.  It  is  curious  to  find  that  in 
Salem  English  grammar  was  not  added  to  the  curricula  of  the  English  schools,  although, 
as  we  have  seen,  it  was  added  to  the  grammar  school  in  1801.  In  1816  this  provision 
was  made  also  for  the  English  schools  to  supply  "  a  grammatical  acquaintance  with  their 
native  tongue"  (ibid.,  464),  and  finally,  in  1827,  the  Latin  and  the  English  high  schools 
of  the  town  appear  to  be  on  a  par  (ibid.,  474).  This  struggle  of  the  two  programs  in 
Salem  is  suggestive  of  what  may  have  taken  place  in  many  other  towns  in  the  course  of 
150  years. 

MIbid.,   448. 

95Rec.  Town  Cambridge,  1630-1703,  II,  296. 

96  Watertown   Rec,    I,   137. 

OTRec.  Town  Dedham,  1659-73,  133. 

MRec.  Town  Plymouth,  II,  232. 


"  Master  to  be  agreed  with  as  will  be  willing  to  Teach  english  as  well 
as  Latten,  and  also  to  Teach  wrighting  and  Cyphering."  " 

Both  the  legislative  efforts  to  compel  towns  to  maintain  Latin 
schools  and  the  efforts  of  the  towns  themselves  to  stress  the  vernacular 
rather  than  the  Latin  indicate  a  leaning  toward  the  State  laws  which, 
in  the  decades  .immediately  following  the  Revolution,  gave  English 
an  equal  legal  standing  with  the  classics.  These  laws  may  be  said  to 
fructify  the  tendencies  of  the  previous  150  years.  The  makers  of  the 
Massachusetts  law  of  1789  and  corresponding  laws  of  other  States, 
which  will  be  cited,  realized  that  a  renewal  of  educational  enthusiasm 
must  center  around  the  national  tongue,  eloquent  testimony  to  the 
fact  that  the  study  of  English  "  as  a  language  "  had  advanced  very 
rapidly  since  its  first  feeble  beginnings. 

In  1789  Massachusetts  required  that  "  every  town  .  .  .  containing 
two  hundred  families  .  .  .  shall  be  provided  with  a  grammar  school 
master  .  .  .  well  instructed  in  the  Latin,  Greek  and  English  Lan- 
guages." This  school  was  to  be  kept  for  12  months.  Every  town  of 
150  families  was  to  keep  a  similar  school  six  months ;  every  town  of 
100  families,  an  English  school  for  12  months;  every  town  of  50 
families,  an  English  school  for  six  months ;  that  is,  "  every  town  .  .  . 
containing  fifty  families  .  .  .  shall  be  provided  with  a  schoolmaster 
...  to  teach  children  to  read  and  write  and  to  instruct  them  in  the 
English  language,  as  well  as  in  arithmetic,  orthography,  and  decent 
behavior." *  Moreover,  the  statute  allows  selectmen  to  maintain 
mixed  schools  if  they  prefer.  This,  for  example,  is  what  Braintree 
did  in  1790.2 

Martin  points  out  that  by  this  act  120  towns  out  of  270  in  Massa- 
chusetts were  relieved  of  the  necessity  of  keeping  a  Latin  school.3  In 
1825  Massachusetts  relieved  all  towns  of  less  than  5,000  inhabitants  of 
the  Latin  school.4  In  short,  between  1789  and  1825  compulsory  Latin- 
grammar  education  may  be  said  to  have  passed ;  English  schools,  with 
the  English  curriculum,  including  English  grammar,  had  been 

Boston,  pursuant  to  the  law  of  1789,  completely  reorganized  her 
schools.  A  manuscript  copy  of  "  The  System  of  Public  Education," 
bearing  the  signature  of  John  Scollay,  chairman  of  the  board  of 
selectmen,  under  date  December  1,  1789,  was  in  the  possession  of 
jenks  when  he  wrote  his  "  Sketch  of  the  Boston  Latin  School."  This 
manuscript  indicates  how  prominent  a  place  was  assigned  to  the  vari- 
ous branches  of  the  vernacular  in  the  Boston  schools.  The  center  of 
the  system  was  a  classical  grammar  school,  for  entrance  to  which  two 

w  Braintree  Town  Rec.,  1640-1693,  598. 
1  Perpet.  Laws  of  Com.  Mass.,  1799,  II,  39. 
8  Braintree  Town  Rec,  1640-1793,  598. 
•Martin,  Ev.  of  Mass.  Sen.  Sys.,  85. 
4  Laws  of  Com.  of  Mass.,  X,  558. 

RAPID   RISE   OF   GRAMMAR   AFTER   1775.  73 

prerequisites  are  indicated.  The  boy  must  have  reached  the  age  of  10 
years  and  must  have  been  "  previously  well  instructed  in  English 
Grammar."  In  addition,  there  were  three  writing  schools  and  three 
reading  schools,  in  which  children  of  both  sexes  were  to  be  taught  to 
"  spell,  accent,  and  read  both  prose  and  poetry,  and  also  be  instructed 
in  English  Grammar  and  Composition."  In  the  reading  schools 
textbooks  include  the  Holy  Bible,  Webster's  Spelling  Book,  The 
Young  Ladies  Accidence  (Caleb  Bingham's  elementary  grammar), 
and  Webster's  American  Selections.  It  is  also  ordered  that  "  the 
upper  Class  in  the  Reading  Schools  be  instructed  in  Epistolary 
Writing  and  other  Composition."  5 

It  is  not  asserted  here  that  the  Massachusetts  law  of  1789  made 
'  English  grammar  compulsory,6  but  that  this  law,  as  those  of  several 
other  States,  was  enacted  in  response  to  a  demand  for  increased  atten- 
tion to  vernacular  instruction.  In  Massachusetts  English  grammar 
was  specified  in  the  law  of  1835. r 

The  Vermont  laws  of  1797  and  1810,  while  they  do  not  mention 
grammar,  do  nevertheless  stress  the  vernacular.8  Virginia  in  1796 
enacted  a  similar  statute,9  and  Delaware,  in  1796,  defines  a  "  good 
English  Education,"  prescribing  "  the  English  language,  arithmetic, 
and  other  such  branches  of  knowledge  as  are  most  useful  and  neces- 
sary in  completing  a  good  English  education."  10  The  regents  of  the 
University  of  the  State  of  New  York,  in  1793,  in  a  report  to  the  legis- 
lature say :  "  We  can  not  help  suggesting  .  .  .  the  numerous  advan- 
tages that  would  accrue  .  .  .  from  the  institution  of  schools  .  .  .  for 
reading  their  native  tongue  with  propriety  .  .  .  writing  .  .  .  arith- 
metic. .  .  -11  The  ultimate  effect  of  these  laws  was,  of  course,  to  stress 
grammar  together  with  the  other  "  senior  branches  " 12  of  English. 
However,  the  effect  of  the  universal  turning  to  the  vernacular,  as  it 
bore  particularly  upon  grammar,  may  be  seen  better  in  certain  State 
laws  contemporary  with  the  Massachusetts  law  which  specifically 
mention  the  subject. 

The  first  State  legislation  to  speak  definitely  of  grammar  appears 
to  have  been  the  New  York  law  of  1797,  which  provided  "  for  main- 
taining one  or  more  free  schools  in  the  city  of  New  York,  in  which 
Scholars  shall  be  instructed  in  the  English  Language,  or  be  taught 
reading,  writing,  the  English  grammar,  arithmetic,  mathematics,  and 

B  Jenks,  Cat.  and  His.  Sketch  Boston  Latin  School,  286 ;  original  document  printed 
in  full. 

6  Corey  makes  this  mistake.     Hist.  Maiden,  631. 

T  Rev.  Stat.  Mass.,  chap.  23,  sec.  1. 

8  Laws  State  Vt.,  Wright,  1808,  I,  181  ;  ibid.,  Fay  Davidson  and  Burt,  1817,  III,  236. 

•  Stat,  at  Large  of  Va.,  Shepard,  1835,  III,  5. 

10  Laws  State  Delaware,  S.  and  J.  Adams,  1797,  II,  1298. 

11  Hist,  and  Sta.  Rec.  of  the  Univ.  of  N.  Y.,  Hough,  66. 

"This  suggestive  phrase  is  used  in  the  charter  for  Potosi  Academy,  Mo.,  1817.  Lawa 
Dist.  Louisiana,  etc.,  1804-1824,  Lush  &  Son,  I,  519. 


such  other  branches  as  are  most  useful  and  necessary  to  complete  a 
good  English  education."  1S 

By  1827  the  legislature,  acting  on  repeated  recommendations  of  the" 
regents,  was  ready  to  pass  the  law  making  academies  training  schools 
for  teachers.    The  law  of  that  year  includes  this  declaration : 

No  student  shall  be  deemed  to  have  pursued  the  higher  branches  of  an  English 
Education  unless  he  shall  have  advanced  beyond  such  Knowledge  of  common 
vulgar  and  decimal  arithmetic,  and  such  proficiency  in  English  grammar  and 
geography  as  are  usually  obtained  in  common  schools.14 

The  first  State-wide  act  definitely  prescribing  grammar  seems  to 
have  been  the  1798  law  of  Connecticut : 

Enacted,  That  any  School  Society  shall  have  liberty  ...  to  institute  a  School 
of  higher  order  ...  to  perfect  the  Youth  ...  in  Reading  and  Penmanship,  to 
instruct  them  in  the  Rudiments  of  English-Grammar,  in  Composition,  in  Arith- 
metic and  Geography,  or,  on  particular  desire,  in  the  Latin  and  Greek  Lan- 
guages, also  in  the  first  principles  of  Religion  and  Morality,  and  in  general  to 
form  them  for  usefulness  and  happiness  in  the  various  relations  of  social  life.15 

It  is  significant  to  note  here  that  Noah  Webster's  grammars  were 
being  published  in  Hartford  between  1784  and  1790.  The  State  law 
of  1790  16  had  retained  the  compulsory  grammar  schools  in  county 
towns;  but  the  law  of  1798  abolished  this  obligation  and  gave  any 
school  society  the  right  to  substitute,  on  a  vote  of  two-thirds  of  the 
inhabitants,  English  schools  of  a  "  higher  order."  Noteworthy,  too, 
is  the  suggestive  phrase  at  the  end  of  the  law  of  1798 — "  in  general  to 
form  them  (the  pupils)  for  usefulness  and  happiness  in  the  various 
relations  of  social  life."  All  these  considerations  indicate  that  in  the 
lawmakers'  minds  must  have  been  a  conviction  that  the  traditional 
curriculum  must  go,  that  schools  of  higher  order  must  be  retained,  but 
that  in  the  nature  of  English  schools  grammar  and  composition  were 
the  vernacular  branches  of  the  "  senior  ".order,  and,  finally,  that  use- 
fulness and  happiness  in  everyday  life  for  all  and  not  for  a  few 
highly  educated  individuals  was  the  supreme  purpose  of  the  new 
English  education.  Brown  very  fittingly  characterizes  this  revolution 
in  the  curriculum  at  the  end  of  the  century  as  coming  in  response  "  to 
the  chaotic  desire  to  study  the  vernacular  "  and  prefaces  that  expres- 
sive characterization  by  affirming  that  "  in  the  study  of  English  gram- 
mar a  means  was  found  for  giving  vent  "  to  this  desire.17 

The  legislation  of  New  Hampshire  is  especially  enlightening  con- 
cerning the  status  of  grammar.  The  first  educational  law  after  the 
Kevolution,  repealing  all  previous  acts,  provided  funds,  in  1789, 
which — 

"Laws  State  N.  Y.,  1797  to  1800,  inclusive,  IV,  42-3. 

"Laws  State  N.  Y.,  Croswell,  1827,  237. 

15  Acts  and  Laws  Conn.,  Hudson  and  Goodwin,  1796,  1802  edition,  483. 

"Ibid.,  373. 

f  Brown,  Mak.  of  Mid.  Sen.,  234. 

RAPID  RISE   OF   GRAMMAR  AFTER  1*1*75.  75 

shall  be  applied  for  the  sole  purpose  of  keeping  an  English  Grammar  School 
.  .  .  for  teaching  reading,  writing  and  arithmetic,  except  in  shire  and  half  shire 
towns,  in  which  the  school  by  them  kept  shall  be  a  Grammar  School  for  the 
purpose  of  teaching  the  Latin  and  Greek.18 

This  statute  uses  the  term  English  grammar  school,  meaning  merely 
an  English  secondary  school,  not  a  school  based  on  English  grammar. 
But  it  implied  an  effort  to  raise  the  English  school  to  a  higher  dignity 
than  before,  placing  it  in  title  at  least  on  the  same  footing  with  the 
Latin-grammar  school.  Obviously  the  real  difficulty  here  is  that  the 
lower  branches  of  the  vernacular  do  not  possess  the  substance  to 
present  the  same  drill  in  an  English-grammar  school  as  in  a  Latin. 
In  order  to  make  the  curriculum  somewhat  analogous  and  to  justify 
the  claim  of  equal  dignity,  the  higher  branches  of  the  vernacular — 
grammar  and  composition — would  be  the  next  logical  advance  for  the 
English-grammar  schools. 

This  step  was  taken  by  New  Hampshire  several  years  later,  in  the 
law  of  1808,  ordering  an  extension  of  the  curriculum  of  the  English 
school,  and,  what  is  even  more  significant,  dropping  the  provision  for 
Latin  schools  in  shire,  and  half  shire  towns  "  for  the  sole  purpose  of 
keeping  an  English  school  .  .  .  for  teaching  the  various  sounds  and 
powers  of  the  letters  of  the  English  Language,  reading,  writing, 
English  Grammar,  arithmetic,  geography,  and  such  other  branches 
of  education  as  it  may  be  necessary  to  teach  in  an  English  School."  19 
To  be  noted  here  is  the  fact  that  most  of  the  English  grammars  of 
the  day,  of  which  by  1808  there  were  at  least  49  20  published  or  used 
in  America,  had  orthography  as  their  first  section,  usually  defined  as 
"  the  various  sounds  and  powers  of  the  letters."  This  phrase  in  the 
law,  then,  with  the  term  English  grammar,  is  certain  proof  of  the 
legal  sanction  of  this  branch  in  a  secondary  school  which  was  clearly 
intended  to  supplant  the  Latin  school. 

The  law  of  1808  goes  still  further.  It  provides  that  "  no  person  is 
qualified  to  teach  unless  he  or  she  procure  a  certificate  from  some  able 
and  reputable  English  Grammar  school-master."  21  For  schoolmis- 
tresses it  is  demanded  that  "  the  literary  qualifications  of  schoolmis- 
tresses be  required  to  extend  no  further  than  that  they  are  able  to 
teach  the  various  sounds  and  powers  of  the  letters  in  the  English 
Language,  reading,  writing  and  English  Grammar."  22  It  is  clearly 
shown  by  the  specifications  concerning  schoolmistresses  that  English 
grammar  was  prescribed  for  elementary  schools.  Ultimately  gram- 
mar was  placed  in  schools  in  almost  all  parts  of  the  country  which 
were  neither  elementary  nor  secondary,  but  distinguished  by  the  name 

18  Laws  State  of  N.  H.,  Melcher,  1792,  276. 

19  Laws  State  of  N.  H.,  Norris,  1815,  368. 

30  A  list  of  grammars  was  compiled  but  has  been  omitted  in  this  publication. 
»  Ibid.,  368. 
22  Ibid.,  369. 


"  grammar  school."  23  As  indicated  above,  it  is  quite  often  impossible 
to  determine  whether  a  legal  enactment  follows  or  precedes  the  gen- 
eral adoption  of  a  subject  into  the  curriculum.  However;  the  general 
absence  of  textbooks  before  1790  24  makes  it  appear  that  the  public 
schools  at  least  could  not  have  attempted  grammar  very  generally 
before  that  date.  But  the  private  schools,  as  we  have  seen,  were  turn- 
ing more  and  more  to  the  English  curriculum,  following  the  tendency 
seen  in  its  beginnings  between  1750  and  1775.  Not  infrequently  dur- 
ing the  two  decades  before  1800  references  are  made  in  various  acad- 
emies to  "  Professors  of  English."  25 


In  the  laws  of  two  centuries  there  is  discernible  a  marked  tendency 
toward  the  gradual  elimination  of  a  classical  education.  Geography 
and  history,  with  the  feeble  beginnings  of  science,  were  receiving  a 
little  attention ;  but  around  the  English  branches,  especially  grammar 
and  oral  composition  in  the  form  of  oratory,  the  new  curriculum  was 
in  formation.  With  the  passing  of  Latin,  seeming  to  many  unrelated 
to  "  usefulness  and  happiness  in  the  various  relations  of  social  life," 
there  was  left  little  language  study  suitable  for  any  but  the  most  ele- 
mentary instruction.    In  the  Latin  school  the  backbone  of  the  course 

23  It  does  not  appear  that  many  States  specifically  mention  the  incorporation  of  gram- 
mar by  State  law  in  their  curricula.  The  Louisiana  law  of  1826  placed  in  the  primary 
schools  of  New  Orleans  "  a  professor  "  to  teach  "  the  elements  of  the  English  and  French 
grammar."  New  Digest  Stat.  Laws  of  Louisiana,  Bullard  and  Curry,  1842,  I,  374.  In 
1834  Maine  followed  the  usual  practice  of  the  day  by  providing  that  "  no  person  shall  be 
employed  as  a  schoolmaster  .  .  .  unless  .  .  .  well  qualified  to  instruct  youth  in  reading 
and  writing  the  English  Language  grammatically."  Rev.  Stat.  State  of  Me.,  Smith  &  Co., 
1841,  169.    The  law  makes  the  same  requirement  for  schoolmistresses.     Ibid. 

24  Chap.  IV,  p.  77. 

25  A  case  in  point  is  the  Delaware  Academy  of  Wilmington,  primarily  a  classical  school, 
which  as  early  as  1786  had  a  "  Professor  of  English."  An  extract  from  the  curriculum 
shows  "  English,  Lowth's  Grammar,  Blair's  Lectures  in  Rhetoric,"  and  even  "  the  higher 
English  classics  frequently  employed  in  exercises  and  compositions."  References  like  this 
to  English  classics  before  1800  are  extremely  rare.     Powell,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  Del.,  45. 

The  grammar  school  of  Brown  University,  in  1786,  advertised  "  Greek,  Latin  and  Eng- 
lish Languages  taught  grammatically."     Tolman,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  R.  I.,  35. 

Apparently  the  best  way  to  interpret  an  expression  like  this  is  to  believe  that  gram- 
matical instruction  in  the  English  language  stands  in  exactly  the  same  relation  as  gram- 
matical instruction  in  the  classical  languages. 

The  Trenton,  N.  J.,  grammar  school,  in  1789,  gave  a  certificate  under  the  seal  of  the 
corporation  "  to  such  scholars  as  shall  have  studied  the  English  language  grammatically." 
In  1792  the  price  of  tuition  was  put  at  $3  a  quarter  "  for  the  English  School  and  English 
Grammar,"  and  in  1817  the  trustees  recommended  the  use  of  "  Lindley  Murray's  system 
of  teaching  the  English  Language."     Murray,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  N.  J.,  126. 

A  suggestive  item  indicating  the  way  in  which  grammar  spread  is  found  in  the  story  of 
John  Howland,  father  of  the  movement  for  public  schools  in  Rhode  Island.  Appointed  by 
the  city  of  Providence  to  draw  up  rules  for  the  first  schools  established  under  the  new 
law,  1789,  he  went  to  Boston  and  there  procured  a  copy  of  the  rules  establishing  the 
new  school  system  of  1789  and  secured  also  a  list  of  the  textbooks  used  under  that 
act.  Howland  says  :  "  Up  to  this  time  I  had  never  seen  a  grammar  .  .  .  but  observing 
The  Young  Ladies  Accidence  (Caleb  Bingham's  elementary  grammar,  Boston,  1785)  was 
used  in  the  Boston  schools,  I  sent  to  the  principal  bookseller  in  that  town,  and  procured 
one  hundred  copies  for  ours.  The  introduction  of  Grammar  was  quite  an  advance  in  the 
system  of  education  as  it  was  not  taught  at  all  except  in  the  better  class  of  private 
ichools."     Powell,  Hist,  of  Pub.  Sch.  Sys.  in  R.  L.  17. 

RAPID   BISE    OF   GEAMMAE   AFTEE   1775.  77 

had  been  grammar;  the  term  grammar,  the  methods  of  teaching  gram- 
mar, were  ingrained.  Latin  grammar  had  stood  for  the  next  step 
above  reading  and  writing  the  vernacular.  When,  therefore,  the 
advocates  of  a  practical  English  training  found  English  grammar  in 
Dilworth  and  other  texts,  what  was  more  natural  than  that  they 
should  seize  upon  it  as  a  suitable  substitute  for  the  next  step  above 
reading  and  writing  and  spelling  ?  English  they  found  reduced  to  the 
same  accidence  as  Latin;  English  rules  were  to  be  learned  as  the 
Latin ;  textbooks  informed  them  on  title  pages  that  grammar  was  the 
art  of  speaking  and  writing  the  English  language  correctly,  and  this 
was  their  laudable  desire  for  their  children ;  here  is  a  suitable  setting 
in  the  vernacular  program  for  grammar  as  the  basic  study.  This 
conviction  made  its  way  into  legal  sanction  for  English  and  English 
grammar  in  the  last  decade  of  the  eighteenth  century. 


In  the  preceding  chapter  the  number  of  textbooks  available  for 
instruction  in  grammar  before  1784  was  shown  to  have  been  very 
insignificant.  With  the  exception  of  Dilworth's,  primarily  a  speller, 
certainly  no  single  book  was  available  in  a  large  number  of  copies. 
Therefore  nothing  is  more  effective  in  establishing  the  rapidly  rising 
popularity  of  the  new  subject  after  the  Revolution  than  the  flood  of 
grammatical  textbooks  which  began  to  pour  from  the  American  press. 

Even  before  the  State  laws  at  the  end  of  the  century  paved  the  way 
for  a  higher  order  of  instruction  in  English  these  textbooks  in  gram- 
mar began  to  appear.  It  is  significant  that  in  1783  Xoah  Webster,  the 
dean  of  American  textbook  writers,  opened  in  Hartford,  Conn.,  a 
rhetorical  school  for  the  express  purpose  of  teaching  the  English 
language.  It  was  here  that  he  laid  the  foundation  for  his  first  gram- 
mar, Part  II  of  "  The  Grammatical  Institute  of  the  English  Lan- 
guage." 26  In  Hartford  also  was  framed,  in  1799,  the  first  State-wide 
act  specifically  mentioning  instruction  in  "  the  rudiments  of  English 
Grammar."  It  is  significant  that  this  was  the  exact  wording  of  the 
subtitle  of  Webster's  second  grammar,  published  in  1790,  "  The  Little 
Reader's  Assistant.  Rudiments  of  English  Grammar,  Being  an  intro- 
duction to  the  Second  Part  of  The  Grammatical  Institute."  This,  too, 
was  published  in  Hartford.27  Of  course,  there  is  no  certainty  of 
causal  relation  between  Webster's  instruction  and  his  books  and  the 
Connecticut  law  of  1798. 

However  that  may  be,  Webster's  "  Plain  and  Comprehensive  Gram- 
mar," of  1784,  was  the  first  American  textbook  on  the  subject  to  attain 

27  Evans,  op.  cit.,  8,  105. 

28  Love,  Col.  Hist.  Hartford,  270. 


wide  circulation.  Before  1792  it  had  passed  through  at  least  10  edi- 
tions.28 By  1807  29  this  book,  together  with  his  three  other  treatises 
on  grammar,  although  by  far  less  popular  than  his  "  Grammatical 
Institute,"  enjoyed  a  wide  circulation  before  Murray  appeared  in  1795. 
Webster's  success  appears  to  have  attracted  other  American  writers 
into  the  field  at  once,  since  at  least  17  other  works  on  grammar 
appeared  before  1795.30 

Eleven  of  these  17  textbooks  were  unsuccessful,  apparently  none  of 
them  enjoying  more  than  two  or  three  editions,  including  Kenrick's, 
1784;  Mennye's,  1785;  Anonymous,  1789  (3d  ed.)  ;  Ussher's,  1790; 
Hutchins's,  1791 ;  Humphries's,  1792 ;  Tichnor's,  1792 ;  Miller's,  1795 ; 
Carroll's,  1795 ;  and  Dearborn's,  1795.  Of  the  17,  two  were  Webster's 
books  mentioned  above — "  The  Rudiments,"  1790,  and  "  The  Young 
Gentleman  and  Ladies  Accidence,"  1792.  Harrison's,  1787,  was  an 
English  text  reprinted  in  Philadelphia  31  and  in  its  ninth  American 
edition  before  1812 ;  Ussher's,  1790,  was  also  an  American  edition  of 
a  London  book  of  1787  32  and  had  its  third  American  edition  in 
Exeter,  N.  H.,  in  1804.33 

Of  the  17  books  antedating  Murray's  (between  1784  and  1795)  there 
remain  two  which  attained  relatively  wide  use  in  American  schools 
before  Murray's  grammars  appeared.  Of  these,  the  less  important 
was  Caleb  Alexander's  "A  Grammatical  System  of  the  English  Lan- 
guage," Boston,  1792.  It  passed  through  at  least  10  editions  before 

Bingham's  little  elementary  book  of  45  pages  appeared  in  Boston 
in  1785  and  in  a  very  few  years  leaped  into  popularity  in  that  city 
and  elsewhere.  It  was  printed  in  at  least  20  editions  before  1815 ; 35 
100,000  copies  were  sold. 

28  Webster  says-:  "I  published  a  grammar  on  the  model  of  Lowth's ;  .  .  .  this  work 
passed  through  many  editions  before  Murray's  book  appeared.  ...  I  determined  to  sup- 
press my  grammar ;  .  .  .  a  new  work  appeared  in  1807."  Webster's  Dictionary,  1828, 
preface,  3.  Of  this  book  Evans  lists  10  editions  before  1792,  the  first  in  1784  (Evans,  6, 
837),  the  last  in  1792  (ibid.,  8,  382).  The  number  of  editions  was  large.  The  writer,  for 
example,  is  using  the  sixth  Connecticut  edition,  1800,  and  the  book  was  published  by  firms 
in  both  Boston  and  Philadelphia,  1790  and  1787,  respectively.  Evans,  S,  104,  and  ibid., 
7,  183.     In  both  places  there  were  several  editions  before  1800. 

29  Webster's  second  grammar,  "  The  Rudiments,"  1790,  passed  through  six  editions  in 
the  first  two  years,  in  Hartford,  Albany,  Boston,  and  Northampton.  Evans,  op.  cit.,  8, 
105  ;  8,  233.  His  third  book  appeared  in  1792,  published  anonymously  under  the  title 
"  The  Young  Gentleman  and  Ladies  Accidence,  a  Comprehentious  Grammar  of  the  English 
Tongue,"  in  Boston.  The  1807  text  was  "A  Philosophical  and  Practical  Grammar."  His 
last  grammatical  treatise  appeared  as  late  as  the  year  1831,  "An  Improved  Grammar  of 
the  English  Tongue,"  Barnard,  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  XV,  569. 

30  See  Appendix  A. 

31  Evans,  op.  cit.,  7,  121. 
38  Ibid.,    8,   98. 

33  Am.  Jour,  of  Ed.,  XV,  565. 
3*  Ibid.,  XIII,  212  ;  Evans,  op.  cit.,  8,  242. 

35  Ibid.,  218.  The  writer  uses  the  nineteenth  edition,  Boston,  1813  ;  the  name  Martha 
Stebbins  appears  on  the  flyleaf. 

RAPID   RISE   OF   GRAMMAR  AFTER  1775.  79 

Bingham,  a  graduate  of  Dartmouth,  1782,  had  opened  a  private 
school  for  girls  in  Boston  in  1781  and  had  there  begun  what  has  been 
called  the  first  pretentious  effort  to  teach  English  grammar  in  that 
city.36  This  statement  ignores  the  earlier  efforts  to  teach  grammar, 
some  of  which,  as  we  saw  above,  antedated  1775,  either  through  ignor- 
ance of  their  existence  or  because  they  were  insignificant  as  compared 
with  Bingham's.  At  any  rate,  "  The  Young  Ladies  Accidence."  was 
the  result  of  Bingham's  work  in  this  school.  It  is  interesting  to 
remember  that  Xoah  Webster  published  anonymously  in  Boston,  in 
1790,  an  elementary  book  of  approximately  the  same  size  as  Bing- 
ham's under  the  name  "  The  Young  Gentleman  and  Ladies  Acci- 
dence." Bingham,  in  1789.  accepted  a  position  in  the  reorganization  of 
the  Boston  schools,37  and  his  grammar  was  adopted  by  vote  of  the 
board  as  the  official  text  in  the  writing  schools.38 

Of  Webster  and  Bingham,  William  B.  Fowle,  editor  of  the  Com- 
mon School  Journal,  says: 

No  two  men  ever  exercised  more  influence  over  the  schools  of  this  country. 
.  .  .  Webster's  Grammar  was  but  little  used  compared  with  Bingham's;  but  his 
spelling  book  was  far  more  extensively  used.  .  .  .  The  two  authors  divided  the 
field  between  them.** 

Neglecting  now  the  reproduction  of  grammars  which  we  have 
mentioned  as  preceding  1784,  we  find  17  entirely  new  books  in  the 
field  appearing  in  America  before  Murray's  was  introduced.  Of  these 
17  certainly  no  fewer  than  50  editions  had  been  published  within  the 
decade  before  1795.  We  may  conclude,  first,  that  the  impending  flood 
of  grammars  had  begun  to  appear,  and,  second,  that  Brown  is  in 
error  in  maintaining  that  "  Linclley  Murray's  Grammar,  published 
in  1795,  gave  the  first  definite  direction  to  this  department  of  study."  40 

But  the  grammars  of  Webster,  Bingham,  and  the  rest  were  insig- 
nificant in  their  influence  compared  with  the  unexampled  popularity 
of  Lindley  Murray's,  beginning  shortly  after  1795.  This  is  the  Lind- 
ley  Murray  whom  we  saw  as  a  boy  enrolled  in  the  English  school  of 
the  Academy  and  Charity  School  of  Philadelphia  in  1754.41  On 
both  sides  of  the  Atlantic  this  man's  productions  were  reprinted  liter- 
ally hundreds  of  times  and  were  copied  and  abridged  at  least  a  score 
of  times  by  other  authors.  His  most  famous  text  was  u  English  Gram- 
mar, Adapted  to  the  Different  Classes  of  Learners,"  York,  England, 
1795. 42    He  also  prepared  an  "Abridgement  of  English  Grammar," 

38  Wm,  B.  Fowle,  Barnard's  Am.  Teachers  and  Ed.,  70. 
•T  Ibid.,  57. 

^.Tenks,  op.  cit.,  228. 

39  C.  S.  J.,  1850,  74. 

<°  Brown,  op.  cit.,  234. 
"  See  Chap.  Ill,  p.  54. 
*»  Barnard,  op.  cit.,   XV,  775. 


1797 ;  "An  English  Grammar,  in  Two  Volumes,"  1814,  2d  edition ;  and 
"  English  Exercises,"  published  first  before  1802.43 

An  1812  edition  of  the  first  book  asserts  that  35,000  copies  of  his 
larger  book  and  50,000  of  his  "Abridgement "  were  being  sold 
annually  in  America.  In  11  years  the  "  English  Grammar  "  passed 
through  21  editions  in  England  and  twice  that  number  in  America, 
while,  the  "Abridgement "  had  had  20  editions  in  England  and  30  in 
America.  Murray's  "  English  Exercises  "  were  published  frequently, 
and  his  larger  grammar  had  its  fifth  edition  in  New  York  in  1823.** 
The  larger  books  wTere  adopted  by  many  of  the  colleges  in  both 
countries.  It  is  asserted  that  his  grammatical  texts  totaled  over  120 
editions  of  10,000  copies  each  on  the  average ;  that  more  than  1,000,000 
copies  of  his  books  were  sold  in  America  before  1850.45 

But  Murray's  influence  can  not  be  estimated  by  his  own  books 
alone.    At  least  12  men  prepared  and  published  editions  or  abridg- 
ments of  his  various  works.    Among  them  may  be  mentioned  Bullard 
1.797,  tenth  edition,  by  1817;  Flint,  1807,  sixth  edition,  by  1826;  Lyon 
1811,  fourteenth  edition,  by  1821 ;  Pond,  1829,  eighth  edition,  by  1836 
Alger,  1824,  fourth  edition,  by  1846;  Fisk,  1821,  third  edition,  by  1824 
In  this  list  are  included  also  Russell,  1819 ;  Booth,  1819 ;  Cooper,  1828 
Putnam,  1825 ;  Miller,  1823 ;  Blair,  1831 ;  Bacon,  18l8 ;  and  Cheesman, 
1821,  third  edition.46    In  other  words,  a  very  conservative  estimate  of 
the  total  number  of  Murray's  grammars,  including  his  own  and  his 
followers'  before  1850,  is  200  editions,  totaling  between  1,500,000  and 
2,000,000  copies. 

Some  idea  of  the  rapid  rise  of  grammar  after  1784  may  be  gained 
by  examining  the  distribution  of  the  301  grammars  written  by  Ameri- 
cans and  printed  in  America  before  1850. 47  Distributed 'by  decades 
they  are:  .1760-1770,  1;  1771-1780,  5;  1781-1790,  9;  1791-1800,  18; 
1801-1810,  14;  1811-1820,  41;  1821-1830,  84;  1831-1840,  63;  1841- 
1850,66;  total,  301.48 

It  is  to  be  remembered  that  each  unit  in  the  foregoing  represents  a 
new  author  or  an  entirely  new  book  by  an  earlier  author.  As  in  the 
case  of  the  Murray  grammars,  we  have  seen  the  very  large  number  of 
editions  issued.  In  other  words,  during  the  decade  1821-1830,  in 
addition  to  the  84  new  books,  many  of  which  were  printed  several 
times,  there  were  also  published  at  the  same  time  a  very  large  number 
of  editions  of  books  wThose  first  editions  had  preceded  1821. 

The  above  indicates  that  the  desultory  and  scattered  beginnings  of 
English  grammar  before  1775  sowed  the  seed  which,  after  the  Revo- 

"Ibid.,   776. 

"Ibid.,  775. 

«  Goold  Brown,  Am.  Ann.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.,  1832,  584. 

49  Barnard,  op.  cit.,  77(5-6. 

47  This  catalogue  is  omitted  from  this  volume  ;  Appendix  A  has  list  of  grammars  to  1802. 

48  Includes  English  books  reprinted  in  America  up  to  1800. 

RAPID   RISE   OF   GRAMMAR  AFTER   1775.  81 

tion,  began  very  rapidly  to  ripen  into  a  harvest.  The  number  of 
new  textbooks  alone  for  the  entire  period  averaged  more  than  four  a 
year,  and  in  the  decade  between  1821  and  1830  more  than  seven  a  year. 

Only  a  rough  estimate  of  the  total  number  of  editions  can  be  made ; 
many  of  the  textbooks  reached  large  circulation.  Among  the  more 
popular  may  be  mentioned  Comly's,  1804,  which  reached  its  fifteenth 
:  edition  in  1838; 49  GreenleafV"  Grammar  Simplified,"  1819,  its  twen- 
tieth edition  in  1837;  Samuel  Kirkham's  "An  English  Grammar  in 
Familiar  Lectures,"  1823,  its  thirty-sixth  edition  in  1834,  its  fifty- 
third  edition  in  1841 ; 50  Parker's  "  Progressive  Exercises,"  1823,  pri- 
marily a  composition  book,  attained  its  forty-fifth  edition  in  1845. 
Bullion's  "  Practical  Lessons  in  English  Grammar,"  1844,  reached  its 
thirteenth  edition  by  1851 ;  William  H.  Wells's  "  School  Grammar  " 
was  in  its  twentieth  edition  in  1854 ;  and  in  five  years  Peter  Bullion's 
"Analytical  and  Practical  Grammar,"  of  1849,  attained  its  thirty-fifth 

A  modest  estimate,  then,  of  the  total  number  of  editions  attained 
by  the  leading  grammarians,  including  Murray  and  his  followers,  is 
400.  Others  were  frequently  reprinted ;  for  example,  Alexander's,  10 ; 
Jandon's,  18 ;  Brown's,  10 ;  Hull's,  7,  etc.  Even  estimating  that  many 
had  only  one  edition,  the  total  number  of  American  editions  of  gram- 
mars before  1850  was  in  the  neighborhood  of  1,000.51 

Still  more  difficult  is  it  to  estimate  the  number  of  copies  turned  out  in 
these  1,000  editions.  The  number  of  volumes  printed  in  a  few  editions 
is  known.  As  early  as  1772  and  1787  editions  of  10,000  copies  of  Dil- 
worth's  "  New  Guide  "  were  issued.  This  is  hardly  a  fair  criterion, 
however,  because  Dilworth's  included  three  textbooks  in  one  and  was 
without  serious  competitors.  In  1766  the  firm  of  Franklin  &  Hall 
was  preparing  an  edition  of  Dilworth's  consisting  of  2,000  copies.52 

One  of  the  most  used  early  texts  was  Bingham's  "  Young  Ladies' 
Accidence."  Of  this  the  1792  edition  included  4,000  copies.53  It  has 
been  asserted  that  this  book  passed  through  20  editions  of  5,000  copies 
on  the  average,  aggregating  100,000  copies,  before  1820.54  Kirkham 
affirmed,  in  1837,  that  his. book  was  selling  at  the  rate  of  60,000  a 
year.55  In  1829,  after  being  only  six  years  off  the  press,  Kirkham's 
book  was  selling  at  the  rate  of  20,000  a  year.56 

48  The  evidence  as  to  the  number  of  editions  is  taken  from  Barnard's  list  of  American 
textbooks  in  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  XIII,  XIV,  XV. 

50  Barnard  refers  to  a  one  hundred  and  tenth  edition.  Op.  cit.,  XIV,  736  ;  also  Goold 
Brown,   Gram,  of  Gram.,  28. 

51  The  actual  count  of  known  editions  of  books  mentioned  in  the  catalogue  previously 
referred  to  is  961.  The  evidence  is  acknowledged  to  be  very  incomplete.  See  Barnard's 
lists.  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  XIII.  XIV,  XV. 

M  Evans,  op   cit.,  4,  52.  314,  and  7,  III. 

88  Evans,  op.  cit.,   8,  257. 

M  Small,  Early  N.  E.  Sch.,  107  ;  also  Barnard,  op.  cit.,  XIV,  212. 

55  Knickerbocker  Mag.,  Oct.,  1837.  66  Brown,  op.   cit.,   28. 

60258°— 22 6 



If  we  may  assume  that  5,000  copies  is  a  fair  average  for  each  edi- 
tion, then  approximately  5,000,000  copies  of  grammatical  textbooks 
were  printed  in  America  by  1850.  In  other  words,  two  editions  for 
every  large  city  were  issued  by  that  date. 

TIVE STATES,  1800-1850. 


English  grammar  was  a  part  of  the  curriculum  of  the  academies 
chartered  by  the  regents  of  the  University  of  New  York  from  1784, 
the  year  of  its  beginning.  Regents'  reports  for  the  years  1804  to  1807, 
based  on  data  obtained  from  the  individual  reports  made  by  the 
academies,  show  that  during  these  years  English  grammar  was  taught 
on  a  par  with  Latin  grammar.57 

Each  year  special  mention  is  made  of  English  grammar,  together 
with  other  branches  usually  considered  parts  of  the  English  curricu- 
lum, as  distinguished  from  the  Latin.  Indeed,  they  are  mentioned  in 
a  larger  number  of  academies  than  is  the  curriculum  of  the  "  dead 
languages."  58 

The  academies  have  more  significance  than  appears  at  first  thought. 
After  1821  the  academies  of  New  York  were  regarded  as  a  source  of 
supply  of  teachers  for  the  common  schools  of  the  State.  In  that  year 
the  regents  said :  "  It  is  to  these  seminaries  that  we  must  look  for  a 
supply  of  teachers  for  the  common  schools."  59  In  1827  and  succeed- 
ing years  recommendations  to  this  eifect  were  repeated  to  the  legisla- 
ture by  the  regents,  with  pleas  for  increased  appropriations.  In  1834 
the  legislature  passed  the  desired  law.60  In  consequence  the  regents 
declared  that  no  person  should  be  admitted  to  the  teachers'  depart- 
ment until  he  had  passed  such  an  examination  as  to  entitle  him  to  be 

67  The  following  table  is  taken  from  Hough's  Hist,  and  Statis.  Rec.,  Univ.  of  New  York,  1784-1884,  421 














Reading,  writing 

















.      18 


English  grammar,  arithmetic 


Mathematics,  bookkeeping 


Dead  languages 


Logic,  rhetoric,  composition 


Moral  philosophy 


Natural  philosophy 


French  language 




68  This  term  was  upon  the  printed  blank  sent  out  by  the  regents  during  the  four  years 

69  Hough,  op.  cit.,  527. 
60  Ibid.,  536, 



considered  a  scholar  in  the  higher  branches  of  English  education,  the 
first  specified  subject  of  Which  is  the  English  language.61  By  1837, 
374  persons  were  enrolled  in  these  teachers'  departments.62  After  1836 
the  total  enrollment  in  the  academies  increased  at  the  rate  of  nearly 
1,000  students  a  year,  reaching  the  number  of  20,920  in  1852. 

Consideration  of  the  textbooks  used  by  the  academies  between  1832 
and  1850  shows  that  the  Murray  grammars  gradually  disappeared.63 
Kirkham's  book  does  not  reach  its  height  until  1840 ;  then  it  begins  to 
disappear,  while  Brown's  gradually  increases  in  popularity  and  the 
new  books  of  Weld,  Wells,  and  Greene  come  to  the  fore.  Greenleaf's 
has  meantime  sunk  into  insignificance.  Bullion's  books  were  "  The 
Principles  of  English  Grammar,"  Albany,  1834,  which  reached  its 
fourteenth  edition  in  12  years ;  "  Practical  Lessons  in  English  Gram- 
mar and  Composition,"  New  York,  1844,  thirty-third  edition  in  seven 
years;  two  minor  works,  and,  finally,  "Analytical  and  Practical  Eng- 
lish Grammar,"  New  York,  1849,  which  attained  its  thirty-fifth  edi- 
tion in  six  years.64  Wells's,  Clark's,  Weld's,  and  Greene's  books 
belong  to  a  new  generation  of  textbooks.  These  we  shall  see  in  a  later 
chapter  originating  an  entirely  new  conception  of  the  nature  and 
functions  of  grammar  and  the  methods  of  teaching  it.65 

81  Ibid.,   539. 
02  Ibid.,  546. 

Textbooks  in  grammar,  New  York  academies,  1836-1852 — Number  of  academies 

using  various  texts. 
[Compiled  from  Annual  Reports  of  Regents  of  State  of  N.  Y.,  1837-53.] 



























1       ! 
1851 18K2 

Total  number  of  academies 








Number  of  students 













































































Weld    . 















Total  grammars  used . . 


122    162 















64  Barnard,  op.   cit.,  XIII,  221. 
«  See  Chap.  VI,  p.  152. 



Turning  now  to  the  common  schools  of  New  York,  as  distinguished 
from  the  academies,  we  find  that  the  reign  of  the  Murray  books 
reached  its  height  about  1833.66 

The  second  book,  reaching  its  height  of  popularity  by  1839,  is 
Kirkham's  "  English  Grammar  by  Familiar  Lectures,"  1825,  of  which 
Barnard  lists  editions  up  to  the  forty-ninth,  all  published  in  New 
York  before  1840.67  Then  follows  Goold  Brown's  "  The  Institutes  of 
English  Grammar,"  New  York,  1823.  The  fourth  author  is  Roswell 
Smith,  whose  two  works  were  "  Intellectual  and  Practical  Grammar 
on  the  Inductive  System,"  Providence,  1829,  and  "  English  Grammar 
on  the  Productive  System,"  Boston,  1831.  Next  comes  Jeremiah 
Greenleaf,  whose  "  Grammar  Simplified,"  New  York,  1829,  reached 
its  twentieth  edition  in  1851. 68 

Detailed  discussion  of  the  significance  of  the  domination  of  the 
Murray  books,  apparently  reaching  their  height  in  New  York  about 
1833,  and  of  the  almost  meteoric  rise  of  Kirkham  contemporaneous 
with  the  passing  of  Murray,  is  reserved  for  another  chapter69  on 
methods  of  teaching.  Of  interest  here  is  the  comparison  of  the 
amount  of  grammar  being  taught  during  this  period.  County  offi- 
cers almost  without  exception  report  that  four  subjects  are  taught  in 
all  towns — reading,  spelling,  arithmetic,  and  grammar.  The  table 
on  page  85  shows  the  three  most  widely  used  textbooks  in  the  counties 
of  New  York  of  these  three  subjects,  in  addition  to  grammar.70 

In  each  subject  there  seems  to  be  one  book  which  goes  far  toward 
monopolizing  the  field.  In  grammar,  honors  for  the  period  are  fairly 
well  distributed  between  two,  and  the  two  together  have  a  distinct 

68  Textbooks  in  grammar,  New  York  Public  Schools,  1826-^1839 — Number  of  towns 

using  various  texts. 

[Compiled  from  Annual  Rept.  Supt.  Common  Schls.,  N 

Y.,  1830-1840.] 

























































Murray  Introd 

Murray  Sequel 


Other  books: 

English  Reader 


647 ' 



Daboll's  Arithmetic 

349       473 
302       417 


Webster's  Speller 


8T  Barnard,  op.  cit,  XIV,  763. 

88  Ibid.,  XIII,  639. 

89  See  Chap.  VI,  p.  134. 

70  Textbooks  Used  in  New  York,  1827-31.     Summary  from  Reports  of  Supt.  Com.  Scb. 
N.  Y.,  reprinted  A.  J.  of  Ed,  and  Ins.,  1832,  378, 



advantage  over  Daboll's  Arithmetic.  By  1839  Kirkham  alone  sur- 
passed all  other  textbooks  except  Webster's  Speller,  which  for  some 
reason  shows  an  unusual  advance  that  year. 







































English  Reader 

Daboll's  Arithmetic 

Murray's  Grammar 

Webster's  Speller 


Woodbridge's  Geography 

Willet's  Geography 

Morse's  Geography 

Adams's  Arithmetic 

Pike's  Arithmetic 

Cobb's  Geography 

Greenleaf ' s  Grammar 

History  of  the  United  States. 

Tyler's  History 

Colburn's  Arithmetic 

Kirkham 's  Grammar 















An  idea  of  the  proportion  of  pupils  studying  grammar  may  be 
obtained  from  facts  a  few  years  later.  In  1842,  out  of  173,384  pupils, 
reported  from  43  counties,  28,119  were  studying  English  grammar.71 
In  1846,  of  227,760  pupils  in  winter  schools,  51,484  were  reported  as 
studying  grammar,  and  of  211,747  in  summer  schools  32,289  were 
studying  the  subject.72  In  1847,  of  47,833  pupils  in  summer  sessions 
39,846  were  studying  grammar.73  In  round  numbers,  between  15  and 
20  per  cent  of  the  total  number  of  pupils  were  studying  grammar  in 
the  common  schools  of  New  York  as  the  middle  of  the  century 


The  Massachusetts  law  of  1826,  amended  in  1837  and  1839,  required 
"  in  every  town  containing  fifty  families  [extended  in  1839  to  '  every 
town  in  this  commonwealth  ']  74  .  .  .  one  school  for  the  instruction 
of  children  in  orthography,  reading,  writing,  English  grammar, 
geography,  arithmetic,  and  good  behavior."  Horace  Mann,  secretary 
of  the  board  of  education,  in  1838  interpreted  this  law  to  prescribe 
what  he  calls  "  minimum  literary  qualifications  of  teachers  " ;  that  is, 
they  "  must  be  competent  to  teach  the  various  subjects  named."  75 

Moreover,  the  law  of  1835  required  the  school  committee  of  every 
town  to  submit  annual  school  returns  containing  replies  to  11  definite 

"Ibid.,  1843,  7. 

"Ibid.,  1847,  18. 

"Ibid.,  1848,  81. 

u  Acts  and  Resolves,  Mass.,  1839,  22. 

«  Mass.  Sch.  Rept.,  1838,  59. 

Mann  is  very  careful  to  emphasize  the  point  that  it  is  strictly  lawful  for  districts  to 
employ  teachers  more  highly  qualified,  "  who  are  able  to  teach  the  required  branches 
better,  because  they  are  masters  of  higher  ones — who,  for  instance  .  .  .  can  teach  English 
grammar  better,  because  familiar,  from  the  study  of  other  languages,  with  the  principles 
of  universal  grammar." 


inquiries,  of  Avhich  the  seventh  was,  "  What  are  the  Books  in  gem 
use,  specifying  Spelling  Books,  Arithmetics,  Grammars,  Geographi< 
Reading  and  other  Books?"76     This  provision  was  in  force  until 

Pursuant,  then,  to  this  series  of  acts  the  first  four  annual  reports  of 
Mann,  1837  to  1840,  inclusive,  contain  these  data,  as  reported  by  the 
separate  town  school  committees.78 

Concerning  the  status  of  grammar  in  Massachusetts  between  1837 
and  1841,  several  conclusions  may  be  reached.  The  law  requiring 
grammar  was  obeyed  in  letter  at  least.  Only  four  towns  did  not 
report  the  subject  in  their  curricula;  in  addition,  only  six  towns  failed 
to  make  any  report.  Almost  all  the  towns  reported  at  least  one  text- 
book in  grammar.  Roswell  Smith's  "  Inductive  "  and  "  Progressive  " 
grammars  were  by  far  the  most  popular,  with  gradually  increasing 
numbers;  Murray's  followed  in  decreasing  popularity.  In  Worces- 
ter County,  Pond's  Murray  monopolized  the  field,  showing  the  com- 
paratively local  popularity  of  the  Worcester  author.  Of  the  35  towns 
reporting  Pond's  as  in  use  in  1837,  23  were  in  Worcester  County  and 
8  in  the  neighboring  county  of  Franklin.  About  one-fifth  of  the 
towns  reported  more  than  two  grammars ;  some  towns — Pittsfield,  for 
example — reported  as  many  as  five  textbooks  in  use.79 

The  larger  towns  only,  like  Boston  80  and  Dorchester,  used  separate 

"Laws  Com.  Mass.,  XIII,  509. 

Acts  and  Resolves,  Mass.,   1841,  345. 


Toicns  naming  English  grammar 
[Compiled  from  School  Returns,  1838, 

in  Massachusetts. 

1839,  1840,  1841.] 









































79  Concerning  the  great  variety  of  textbooks  in  all  subjects,  Mann  reported  that  in  1837 
there  were  in  use  in  Massachusetts  110  different  readers  and  spellers,  24  grammars,  22 
arithmetics,  20  geographies,  9  books  of  diction,  3  chemistries,  5  geometries,  2  compositions. 
A.  A.  of  Ed.  and  I..  VII,  101. 

80  In  1840-41  the  Boston  school  system  embraced  1  Latin  grammar  school,  1  English 
high  school,  13  grammar  and  writing  schools,  and  95  primary  schools.  Bost.  Sch.  Kept., 
1841,  3.  Regulations  prescribed  for  the  grammar  schools  (four-year  course),  in  Class  III, 
Murray's  "  English  Grammar,"  abridged  by  Alger,  or  Parker  and  Fox's  "  Progressive  Exer- 
cises "  ;  Class  II,  the  same  continued  and  Foot's  "  Exercises  in  Parsing  "  ;  Class  I,  the 
same  continued,  together  with  composition  and  declamation.  Ibid.,  16.  For  admission 
to  the  English  high  school  an  examination  in  grammar  was  necessary  ;  for  the  first  year 
of  high  school  a  review  of  grammatical  texts  of  the  lower  schools  was  prescribed,  while 
"  the  several  classes  shall  be  instructed  in  grammar."     Ibid.,  20. 

RAPID   RISE    OF   GRAMMAR  AFTER   1775.  87 

textbooks  in  parsing  and  composition.  Mann  says  that  only  two 
schools  had  separate  instruction  in  composition.  Nevertheless,  we  see 
that  increasing  use  of  Parker's  "  Progressive  Exercises  in  Composi- 
tion "  indicated  that  the  latter  subject  was  encroaching  upon  the  field 
of  formal  grammar.81 

The  overwhelming  preponderance  of  Smith's  books,  only  six  years 
off  the  press,  denoted  a  rapid  departure  from  the  Murray  type.  To 
be  sure,  Pond's,  Putnam's,  and  Alger's  were  nothing  but  modifications 
of  Murray's;  but  even  adding  the  towns  using  the  three  to  the  towns 
using  Murray's  a  total  of  159  towns  in  1837  is  still  far  short  of  the 
popularity  of  Smith's  "  Productive  Lessons."  Out  of  298  towns 
reporting,  208  used  Smith's  book,82  many  of  them  in  the  grades  imme- 
diately above  the  primary,  usually  called  grammar  grades.  Private 
schools  and  academies  also  used  it. 

This  was  the  period  of  the  extreme  popularity  of  Kirkham's  book 
in  New  York,  but  naturally  we  do  not  find  the  grammars  of  New 
York  very  widely  adopted  by  the  schools  of  Massachusetts. 

The  records  of  1840  show  a  remarkable  increase  of  schools  breaking 
away  from  the  Murray  type  of  instruction.83  Only  54  towns,  as  com- 
pared with  104  in  1837,  still  kept  the  Murray,  while  the  Putnam  and 
Pond  merely  held  their  own.  Very  many  towns  which  in  1837  had 
reported  the  use  of  both  Smith's  and  Murray's,  in  1840  reported  the 
former  alone. 

While  on  the  whole  the  law  requiring  the  teaching  of  grammar  was 
generally  obeyed,  there  is  frequent  testimony  that  it  was  studied  with 
reluctance  and  even  open  opposition.  For  example,  the  Provincetown 
committee  reported :  "  Grammar  has  been  attended  to  very  indiffer- 
ently, in  our  town  schools,  for  all  past  time.  There  are  but  few 
scholars  who  study  it  at  all,  and  few  indeed  who  have  made  much 
proficiency  in  it."  84  In  the  same  year  the  Westport  school  officials 
asserted : 

As  there  are  some  schools  in  which  grammar  has  never  been  taught  .  .  .  and 
there  are  few  or  none  who  wish  to  pursue  it  ...  .  for  these  reasons  the  com- 
mittee has  been  urged  to  grant  certificates  to  teachers  deficient  in  grammar.86 


Vermont  and  New  Hampshire  present  much  the  same  relative 
emphasis  on  grammar  between  1840  and  1850.  Especially  frequent  is 
the  complaint  against  the  multiplicity  of  textbooks.  The  State  super- 
intendent of  Vermont  reports,  in  1848,  that  several  conventions  of 

"Mann,  op.   cit.  "Mass.   Sch.   Ret.,   1843,  271. 

«  See  Chap.  IV,  p.  86.  "  Ibid.,  252. 

•»  Ibid. 


county  superintendents  had  recommended  uniform  textbooks.  The 
grammar  chosen  was  William  H.  Wells's.86  English  grammar  was 
included,  according  to  the  State  official,"  among  the  usual  branches."87 
Superintendents  of  various  counties  report  "  Wells'  grammars  in 
most  schools," 88  while  the  State  superintendent  thinks  that  the 
acquaintance  with  grammar  acquired  is  "  very  slight."  89  "  Teachers 
are  very  poorly  prepared." 90 


In  his  section  on  schoolbooks  the  school  superintendent  of  New 
Hampshire,  in  1846,  makes  a  typical  comment : 

In  the  days  of  Pike's  Arithmetic,  and  Murray's  Grammar,  and  Webster's 
Spelling  Book,  there  was  no  trouble  in  choosing  books;  there  were  none  to 
choose  from.  Our  difficulty  consists  mainly  in  determining  which  is  best  among 
so  many  that  are  good.91 

One  county  official  strikes  even  a  new  note  when  he  recommends 
that  "  a  portion  of  the  time  now  devoted  to  grammar  and  arithmetic 
ought  to  be  spent  in  the  proper  study  of  mankind."  92 


Only  an  occasional  reference  concerning  grammar  finds  place  in 
the  records  of  the  State  superintendent  of  Ohio  during  this  early 
period.  In  1838  one  county  official  reported :  "  Reading,  writing, 
arithmetic,  geography,  and  grammar  are  taught  in  most  schools."  93 
Clerks  of  the  county  examiners  complain  of  the  almost  utter  incom- 
petency of  teachers,  one  saying  that  of  156  examined  53  were  very 
poorly  qualified  and  but  51  understood  "  either  wholly  or  in  part " 
geography,  English  grammar,  and  history.  The  county  was  com- 
pelled to  accept  them,  else  many  schools  would  have  been  left  without 
teachers."  94 

Ten  years  later  (1846-47)  the  status  of  grammar  had  improved 
considerably  in  Ohio.  Reports  of  the  State  superintendent  indicate 
that  the  subject  was  now  regarded  as  an  essential  part  of  the  common- 
school  program.    In  the  words  of  the  State  Teachers'  Association  of 

86Rept.  Supt.  Com.  Sch.,  Vt.,  1848,  21. 
»TIbid.,  24. 

88  Ibid.,    1849,   52. 

89  Ibid.,  17. 

90  Ibid.,  47. 

"Kept.  Supt.  Com.  Sch.  N.  H.,  1846-7,  18. 
88  Ibid.,  1848,  Appendix,  XXXIX. 
M  Rept.  of  Supt.  Com.  Sch.,  1839,  52. 
"Ibid.,  53. 



1847,  "  a  substantial  English  education  ought  to  be  given  every  citi- 
zen of  the  State."  95  In  the  "  union  schools,"  Ohio's  term  for  com- 
mon schools,  divided  into  primary,  secondary,  and  senior  or  grammar- 
school  departments — 

a  thorough  course  of  instruction  in  all  the  common  English  branches  is  pursued, 
and  to  this  is  added,  when  practicable,  a  high  school,  in  which  the  higher 
English  branches,  mathematics,  and  the  languages  are  taught.96 

Ashtabula  County  reported  that  Smith's  Grammar  was  used  in  99 
schools,  Kirkham's  in  49,  Brown's  in  25,  Noell's  in  16,  Bullion's  in  13.97 
The  following  tabular  statement  from  the  same  county  gives  indica- 
tion of  the  number  of  pupils  studying  the  subject  as  compared  with 
the  other  English  branches : 

Summer  schools,  1847. 







in  arith- 

in  gram- 

in  geog- 

in  com- 













Per  cent. 

Per  cent. 

Per  cent. 

Per  cent. 

Per  cent. 

*  Ibid.,  34.  t 

Seneca  County  also  furnishes  data  on  this  point.  The  number  of 
pupils  studying  spelling  was  3,200;  arithmetic,  3,540;  grammar,  420; 
geography,  500." 

Nevertheless,  complaint  was  frequently  made  that  teachers  were 
incompetent  to  teach  the  subject.1  Licking  County  so  reports.  In 
Fairfield  County,  of  110  licensed  all  were  found  competent  to  teach 
reading,  writing,  and  arithmetic,  only  64  were  proficient  in  grammar, 
62  in  geography,  and  10  in  algebra.2  In  Knox  County  somewhat  more 
than  50  per  cent  of  the  teachers  were  competent  in  grammar,3  and 
some  districts  refused  to  allow  grammar  and  geography  to  be  taught, 
the  examiner  adding :  "  If  geography  and  grammar  were  added  as 
legal  qualifications  of  teachers,  they  would  be  required  to  understand 
them."  Ashtabula  County  reported  fully  all  the  examinations  given 
pupils  in  the  various  classes.  Eighteen  minutes  were  allowed  candi- 
dates to  answer  the  following  examination  in  grammar :  * 

98  Rept.  of  Sec.  of  State,  Com.  Sen., 

1848,  52. 

1  Ibid., 


•«Ibid.,    56. 

•  Ibid., 


"Ibid.,  32. 

•  Ibid., 


••Ibid.,   47. 

« Ibid., 



It  is  the  mind  that  lives. 

1.  How  many  capital  letters  should  be  used  in  writing  the  above  sentence? 

2.  Is  the  sentence  simple  or  compound? 

3.  How  much  may  be  regarded  as  a  simple  sentence? 

4.  In  this  sentence  what  are  the  principal  parts? 

5.  What  is  government  in  grammar? 

6.  What  is  meant  by  case? 

7.  What  is  meant  by  the  conjugation  of  a  verb? 

8.  Give  the  principal  parts  of  the  verb  "  to  go." 

These  questions  were  given  to  455  children  of  average  age  of  15; 
42  per  cent  of  the  answers  were  correct.  The  highest  average  was  72 
per  cent  for  Morgan  Township.5  The  same  attitude  toward  the  cur- 
riculum was  found  in  the  State  reports  of  Ohio  in  the  decade  1847- 
1857  as  in  the  preceding  10  years ;  the  references,  however,  are  scatter- 
ing and  unsatisfactory.  Nevertheless,  the  fact  that  we  invariably  find 
grammar  named  whenever  a  complete  curriculum  is  mentioned  indi- 
cates that  the  subject  was  fully  established.  In  Ashtabula  County,  in 
1850,  the  distribution  of  pupils  by  studies  was :  Orthography,  2,174 ; 
reading,  6,005;  mental  arithmetic,  1,684;  written  arithmetic,  2,214; 
geography,  1,248 ;  English  grammar,  934 ;  composition,  759.6  Coshoc- 
ton County  reported  255  pupils  in  spelling,  181  in  arithmetic,  180 
in  grammar,  13  in  geometry.7  Holmes,  Meigs,  Preble,  Rockland, 
and  Scioto  Counties  reported  grammar  taught  in  all  the  districts,8 
while  Pike  County  affirmed — 

the  provision  of  the  law  requiring  teachers  to  understand  Geography  and  Eng- 
lish Grammar  should  by  no  means  be  repealed.  It  is  found  that  in  this  county 
teachers  are  as  defective  in  Arithmetic  as  in  Grammar ;  .  .  .  the  majority,  yea, 
four-fifths  of  the  applicants,  are  unqualified  to  teach  anything  more  than  the 
first  principles.* 


The  private  schools  of  North  Carolina  generally  included  English 
grammar  in  their  curricula  after  1800.10  Five  schools  before  1800 
report  grammar.  Grove  Academy,  the  earliest,  in  1787  reported 
"  twenty-five  students  under  a  master  who  teaches  only  the  Latin  and 
English  grammar."  xl  The  trustees  of  New  Bern  Academy  report  the 
examination  of  pupils  in  the  English  language  in  1794 ; 12  likewise, 

e  Ibid.,   21. 

•Ann.  Rept.  Sec.  State,  Com.  Sen.,  1851,  55. 

I  Ibid.,  63. 

»  Ibid.,  79,  96,  104,  107,  112. 
•Ibid.,  103. 

10  Data  in  this  section  are  compiled  from  North  Carolina  Schools  and  Academies,  1790- 
1840,  A  Documentary  History,  by  Charles  L.  Coon. 

II  Coon  (op.  cit.,  75)  cites  Carr's  Dixon  Letters,  34,  35. 
12  Ibid.,  50.     New  Bern  Gaz.,  Jan.  4,  1794. 

RAPID   RISE   OF   GRAMMAR  AFTER  1775.  91 

Fayetteville  Academy  announces  that  pupils  excel  in  English  gram- 
mar in  1800.13  in  1794  Wayne  Academy  began  with  emphasis  in 
English,  and  a  few  years  later  the  "  fifth  class  .  .  .  were  examined  in 
English  Grammar  from  the  verb  '  to  have'  to  syntax";  the  sixth 
class  "  as  far  as  the  substantive  " ;  the  seventh  "  as  far  as  the  '  article,'  " 
and  the  eighth  class  "  to  the  verb  '  to  be.'  "  14 

The  decade  between  1801-1810  shows  18  schools  specifically  naming 
grammar.  The  following  are  typical  statements:  Wadesborough 
Academy,  "  English  Grammar,  Geography,  .  .  .  twelve  Dollars."  15 
Caswell  Academy  employed  an  instructor  "  to  teach  the  English  Lan- 
guage grammatically."  16  The  Halifax  Classical  School  was  opened 
in  1807  "  where  he  (the  principal)  taught  the  Latin  &  English  gram- 
matically. .  .  ." 17  The  succeeding  decade  shows  25  academies  and 
schools  definitely  mentioning  the  subject.  In  the  Salisbury  Academy 
Miss  Elizabeth  T.  Harris  was  examined  "  on  the  whole  of  English 
Grammar,  parsing,  correcting  false  syntax,  rules  of  punctuation,  per- 
spicuity, etc.  .  .  .  and  she  exhibited  several  specimens  of  Composi- 
tion."18 In  1819  John  Haasam  came  to  Raleigh  "  as  a  traveling  teacher 
of  English  Grammar."  His  announcement  begins :  "  The  Acquisition 
of  English  Grammar  Rendered  pleasing,  expeditious  and  perma- 
nent." 19  The  decade  of  1821-1830  shows  39  definite  announcements 
of  grammar ;  that  of  1831-1840  shows  31  schools  which  give  the  sub- 
ject a  prominent  place.  One  Edward  Fowlkes,  in  1831,  announced  of 
a  certain  school :  "  It  is  an  institution  in  which  the  English  Grammar 
is  taught  upon  a  completely  new  and  successful  plan  in  seven  weeks, 
at  seven  dollars  per  scholar. ';  20 

In  all,  118  schools,  of  about  300  private  institutions  of  which 
Coon  has   reprinted   documents,   were   definitely  teaching  English 

"Ibid.,  60.     Raleigh  Reg.,   Aug.   19,   1800. 

14  Ibid.,  634.  Raleigh  Reg.,  Oct.  9,  1818.  The  textbooks  mentioned  in  these  records 
are  Murray's  Grammar  and  Murray's  Exercises.  Among  the  books  advertised  in  North 
Carolina  during  the  period  before  1810  appear  also  Webster's,  Ashe's,  Dilworth's,  Priestley's. 
Lowth's,  Aker's,  Harrison's  "Exercises  in  Bad  English,"  Murray's  "  Exercises,"  Mur- 
ray's "  Introduction,"  Fisher's.  Ibid.,  769,  73,  74,  75,  77,  80,  86.  After  1810  there  appear 
in  addition  Alexander's,  Garretson's  "  Exercises  in  Bad  English,"  Greenleaf's,  Ingersol's, 
Comley's,  Brown's,  Boardman's.  Ibid.,  789,  95.  In  1838  Turner  and  Hughes,  of  Raleigh, 
advertised  "  200  Smith's  Practical  Productive  Grammar,  700  Murray's  English  Grammar 
well  bound  in  leather  and  offered  at  a  reduced  price."  Ibid.,  798,  Raleigh  Reg.,  Mar. 
12,    1838. 

School  officials  were  eager  to  secure  good  English  teachers.  Such  advertisements 
appeared  in  the  Raleigh  Register  between  1800-1810 ;  also  qualified  "  to  teach  English 
Grammar."  Ibid.,  800-4.  From  1811-1820  there  are  cited  seven  similar  advertisements. 
Thirty  of  the  40  advertisements  and  announcements  cited  between  1821  and  1840  concern 
teachers  for  English  schools.     Ibid.,  813-820. 

15  Ibid.,  2.     Raleigh  Reg.,  May  9,  1803. 
10  Ibid.,  19.     Raleigh  Reg.,  Dec.  9,  1803. 

"  Ibid.,  175.     Halifax  Jour.,  Jan.  12,  1807. 
18  Ibid.,  363.     Western  Carolinian,  Dec.   19,  1820. 
"Ibid.,  521.     Raleigh  Reg.,  Aug.  27,  1819. 
"•Ibid.,  558;  The  Star,  June  30,  1831. 



grammar  before  1840.  No  direct  evidence  appears  with  respect 
instruction  in  English  grammar  in  the  172  other  schools,  and  we  can 
not  therefore  assert  positively  that  instruction  in  this  branch,  was 
given  in  any  one  of  them.  Yet  it  seems  likely  that  some  of  these 
schools  gave  such  instruction,  because  many  of  them  do  not  announce 
their  curricula,  and  almost  without  exception  those  schools  which 
do  include  grammar  in  the  documents  studied.  However,  among  the 
schools  not  listed  very  many  announced  "  the  English  School,"  "  the 
branches  usually  taught  in  English  Schools,"  "  the  lower  and  higher 
branches  of  English,"  "  all  branches  of  English,"  "  the  ordinary 
branches  of  English,"  or  used  similar  phrases.  We  may  conclude  that 
the  private  schools  of  North  Carolina  were  very  generally  laying 
stress  upon  grammar  before  1840. 

4.  THE  STATUS  OF  GRAMMAR,  1850  TO  1870. 

In  spite  of  the  fact  that  an  enormous  number  of  grammars  were 
sold  every  year  in  the  middle  of  the  nineteenth  century,  they  were 
used  mostly  in  the  intermediate  and  high  schools  of  the  larger  and 
more  prosperous  towns,  and  at  best  only  in  a  perfunctory  way  in  the 
schools  of  smaller  communities. 


A  body  of  data  concerning  the  status  of  the  common  schools  of  Penn- 
sylvania seems  to  bear  out  this  conclusion  for  that  State.  In  1854 
the  legislature  passed  a  law  requiring  instruction  in  grammar  21  and 
obliged  each  county  superintendent  to  submit  an  annual  report  to  the 
superintendent  of  common  schools.22  In  the  following  year  all  but  a 
few  counties  complied. 

Examination  of  these  reports  shows  that  there  is  almost  universal 
evidence  of  scarcity  of  good  teachers ;  that  many  who  applied  to  take 
the  examinations  were  rejected ;  that  many  times  teachers  who  were 
deficient  in  grammar  and  geography  had  to  be  accepted.  Out  of  50 
counties  28  county  superintendents  comment  on  the  difficulty  of  secur- 
ing competent  teachers  of  any  subjects,  39  upon  the  incompetency  of 
teachers  applying  for  examination  in  grammar.  For  example,  in 
Bucks  County  270  teachers  were  examined ;  certificates  were  granted 
to  20  who  were  deficient  in  English  grammar  on  their  promise  "  that 
they  would  make  themselves  acquainted  with  this  subject  during  the 
year."  23    In  Bradford  County  "  out  of  500  teachers  examined  .  .  . 

21  "  It  shall  be  the  duty  of  each  county  superintendent  to  see  that  in  every  district  there 
shall  be  taught  orthography,  reading,  writing,  English  grammar,  geography,  and  arith- 
metic. .  .  ."     Laws  Com.  Pa.,  1854,  625. 

»Ibid.,  627. 

88  Pa.  Com.  Sen.  Kept.,  1854,  25. 

RAPID   RISE   OF   GRAMMAR  AFTER  1175.  93 

one-fourth  fell  below  the  standard  required  by  law." 24  Center 
County  was  compelled  to  issue  many  certificates  from  which  English 
grammar  and  geography  were  stricken  out.25  Especially  suggestive 
is  the  statement  from  Clearfield  County : 

I  find  many  who  can  go  through  the  grammar  and  repeat  every  rule  and 
conjugate  every  verb  correctly  and  can  not  analyze  and  parse  the  most  simple 

The  foregoing  are  fairly  typical  replies. 

The  superintendent  of  Adams  County  found  that  general  opposi- 
tion to  the  new  school  law  lay  in  the  requirement  that  English  gram- 
mar and  geography  should  be  taught.  He  affirmed  that  "  none  of  the 
parents  wish  their  children  to  study  English  Grammar  and  Geog- 
raphy." 27  He  allayed  the  opposition  by  explaining  that  the  law 
required  grammar  in  every  county  but  not  in  every  school.  This  is 
typical  of  many  references  to  hostility  toward  the  subject;  very  few 
counties  report  favorable  instruction  in  the  subject,  and  that  in  the 
academies  and  larger  schools.  All  these  facts  lead  to  the  inference 
that  English  grammar  as  such  had  little  place  in  the  large  majority 
of  the  common  schools  of  Pennsylvania.  To  be  sure,  the  law  was  new. 
The  relative  emphasis  upon  grammar  and  other  higher  branches  in 
New  York  at  this  period  indicates  the  effects  of  25  years  of  legal 
requirement  of  the  branches  in  the  latter  State  as  compared  with  the 
absence  of  such  requirement  in  Pennsylvania.  In  the  latter  the  report 
of  Indiana  County  states  what  seems  to  have  been  near  the  general 
truth : 

A  rough  knowledge  of  spelling,  reading,  writing,  and  ciphering  is  deemed  all 
sufficient,  whilst  a  knowledge  of  grammar,  geography,  etc.,  is  most  heartily 

In  short,  the  Pennsylvania  reports  show  that  the  schools  were  by 
no  means  fitted  to  give  good  instruction  in  grammar.  Thirty-nine 
counties  report  grossly  inadequate  instruction;  29  say  they  have  to 
accept  whoever  applies ;  20  complain  of  hopeless  variety  of  textbooks 
and  incompetent  grading;  18  speak  of  decided  opposition  to  gram- 
mar ;  14  say  that  local  inspectors,  being  unpaid,  are  unsatisfactory ;  11 
mention  wretched  buildings;  only  3  reports  are  really  commenda- 
tory, although  many  are  optimistic  concerning  the  ultimate  effect  of 
State  aid,  certification  of  teachers,  and  other  new  features  of  the  law. 

"Ibid.,  19. 
28  Ibid.,  38. 
2aIbid.,   47. 

27  Ibid.,  4. 

28  Ibid.,  15.  The  superintendent  of  Bucks  County,  in  one  school,  saw  9  classes  recite  in 
the  following  order  :  One  scholar  in  Swain's  Reader ;  12  in  Frost's  History  ;  1  in  Emer- 
son's First  Class  Reader  ;  1  in  Comley's  Reader ;  1  in  Emerson's  Third  Class  Reader ;  2 
in  Emerson's  Rhetorical  Reader  ;  1  In  Comley's  Spelling  Book  ;  2  in  The  Primer  ;  2  in  The 
A  B  C's,    The  same  program  was  repeated  in  the  afternoon.     Ibid.,  28, 



r  dur- 

The  status  of  grammar  in  the  common  schools  of  New  Jersey 
ing  the  decade  1850  to  1860  may  be  seen  by  an  examination  of  the 
reports  of  the  State  board  of  education  for  three  representative 
years — 1850,  1854,  and  1860.  The  total  number  of  references  in  these 
reports  concerning  the  curriculum  include  statements  from  12  of  the 
21  counties  and  from  19  different  townships  which  specifically  men- 
tion grammar.  In  1850  Bergen  County  reports  "  grammar,  history, 
arithmetic  taught  orally  to  young  pupils "  in  Hackensack  Town- 
ship ; 29  of  154  boys  and  152  girls  in  Northampton  Township,  Burling- 
ton County,  66  were  studying  grammar,30  and  of  150  pupils,  50  Avere 
studying  grammar  in  Southampton  Township.31  The  superintendent 
of  Hunterdon  County  reports  that  a  few  pupils  only  study  grammar.32 
An  interesting  sidelight,  indicating  that  in  certain  quarters  the  sub- 
ject was  regarded  as  the  capstone  of  the  common-school  curriculum,  is 
found  in  the  following  statement  of  the  superintendent  of  Wood- 
bridge  Township,  Middlesex  County :  "  There  are  taught  all  the  sub- 
jects usually  taught  in  the  schools,  from  the  alphabet  to  English 
grammar."  33  Of  reports  from  175  townships,  in  1851,  only  five  cited 
above  speak  of  grammar.  However,  the  subject  is  mentioned  by  every 
officer  who  mentions  the  curriculum  at  all. 

The  following  table  giving  the  distribution  of  pupils  by  subjects 
in  seven  districts  of  Wall  Township,  Monmouth  County,  is  enlighten- 
ing as  showing  the  relatively  small  number  of  pupils  studying  gram- 
mar, which,  as  we  have  seen,  was  regarded  as  one  of  the  higher 
branches  in  the  common  schools.34 










Number  of  pupils 

































































Average  attendance 











Beyond  division 






Defining  words 





In  1860,  205  townships  in  21  counties  show  meager  evidence  as  to 
grammar  being  a  part  of  the  curriculum,  only  eight  townships  refer- 
ring definitely  to  it.  Roswell  Smith's  grammars  predominate,  and 
there  is  constant  indication  that  the  subject  is  taught  as  a  higher 

29  Kept.   State   Supt.,   1851,   32. 
80  Ibid.,   41. 
»  Ibid.,   45. 

32  Ibid.,  63. 
83  Ibid.,  85. 
"Ibid.,  1854, 




.branch,  only  very  few  pupils  pursuing  it.  The  conclusion  which  must 
be  reached  is  that  grammar  was  but  indifferently  taught  in  New  Jer- 
sey, only  in  the  better  common  schools,  with  less  than  one-tenth  of  the 
pupils  studying  it.  This  is  entirely  consistent  with  the  status  of  the 
subject  in  Pennsylvania  during  the  same  period. 


The  showing  of  New  York  for  the  decade  in  question  is  more  favor- 
able. The  State  was  evidently  far  in  advance  of  Pennsylvania  and 
New  Jersey.35 

In  comparing  with  the  adjoining  States  it  needs  to  be  remembered 
that  the  academies  of  New  York  are  higher  schools  than  the  common 
schools  considered  in  Pennsylvania  and  New  Jersey.  Data  concern- 
ing the  status  of  grammar  in  the  common  schools  of  New  York  are 
not  available  after  1839 ;  but  even  as  early  as  1826-1839  the  showing 
for  grammar  in  common  schools  in  New  York  far  surpasses  that  of 
the  two  other  States  named  even  for  20  years  later.36 

Regents'  reports  of  New  York,  covering  the  condition  of  grammar 
for  the  period,  1865  to  1874,  in  the  academies,  show  the  complete 
passing  of  the  grammars  of  the  old  guard  (with  the  exception  of 
Goold  Brown's,  Murray's,  Kirkham's,  Smith's,  and  Webster's).  The 
newer  grammars  of  the  middle  of  the  century  have  taken  their  place, 
as  will  be  seen  from  the  following  table : 37 





















Smith  . 




































85  The  following  table  continues  the  table  on  page  83  through  the  years  1850  to  1856, 













22, 778 






20, 860 











































Compiled  from  Regent's  Reports,  1852-1857,  inclusive.    The  1855  figures  represent  two-thirds  of  the  year 

"See  p.  84. 

«TReg.  Rep.,  1876,  439. 



The  new  grammars  of  Quackenbos  and  Kerl  have  attained  prom 
nence,  and  Swinton's  "  Language  Lessons,"  of  1873,  which  was  to 
revolutionize  the  teaching  of  the  subject,  is  seen  just  entering  the 
academies.  The  fact  is  significant  that  the  total  number  of  grammars 
reported  is  considerably  diminished,  even  though  the  number  of 
academies  is  increased.  This  means  that  the  place  of  the  subject  in 
the  curriculum  has  become  more  stable. 

Some  light  can  be  thrown  on  the  status  of  grammar  in  the  acad- 
emies during  this  period  by  reports  of  regents'  examinations.  The 
percentage  of  those  passing  in  grammar  is  noticeably  lower  than  in 
arithmetic,  geography,  and  spelling,  the  three  other  subjects  used.38 


In  Ohio,  1852,  the  26  townships  of  Licking  County  taught  English 
grammar.39  That  the  instruction  was  largely  perfunctory  in  some  of 
the  rural  counties,  at  least,  is  evidenced  by  the  superintendent  of  Pike 
County,  who  reported : 

That  our  children  should  learn  to  read  and  write,  and  occasionally,  in  large 
towns  and  cities,  to  the  highly  favoured,  may  be  added,  by  way  of  luxury,  a 
little  sprinkling  of  Geography  and  Grammar,  answers  almost  universal  custom.40 

That  this  man  somewhat  underestimated  the  universal  custom  is 
shown  by  the  report  of  the  State  commissioner  for  the. year  1856, 
summarizing  the  number  of  pupils  instructed  in  the  various  branches. 
The  total  number  of  "  unmarried  "  children  of  school  age  (5  to  21)  in 
the  State  was  799,666;  of  these,  561,315  were  enrolled  in  the  schools; 
the  average  attendance  was  322,643. 41  The  distribution  of  these  by 
subjects  is  as  follows : 42 

'  1856.  1857. 

Penmanship 249,  002  271,  440 

Mental  arithmetic 82,  640  112.  744 

Written  arithmetic „ 166,  665  187,  290 

Geography * 90,  784  108,  270 

English    grammar 63,  414  75,  353 

Composition 15,  201  21.  916 

History 5,  824  6,  759 

Algebra 5,  790  7,  644 

*  Percentage  of  students  passing  in  grammar  in  New  York  academies,  1866  to  187S. 














11, 780 





15, 442 



Ann.  Rept.  Regt.  Univ.  N.  Y.,  89,  472. 
»  Rept.  Sec.  State,  Com.  Sch.,  1852,  40.  «  Rept.  of  Sen.  Comm.,  1857,  8Q, 

*  Ibid.,  51,  «  Ibid.,   89, 

RAPID   RISE   OF   GRAMMAR   AFTER   1775.  97 

1856.  1857. 

Rhetoric 404  929 

Latin.. 675  1, 319 

Greek 113  159 

German .... 903  1,320    ' 

French 180  250 

Zoology 675  688 

This  table,  indicating  that  approximately  one-fifth  of  the  pupils 
were  studying  grammar,  seems  to  warrant  the  assertion  that  the  sub- 
ject was  almost  universal,  including  quite  as  large  a  percentage  of 
pupils  as  in  New  York  and  Massachusetts.  This  conclusion  must  be 
qualified  by  two  facts :  First,  undeveloped  counties,  like  Pike  43  and 
Gallia,44  report  that,  with  very  few  exceptions,  reading,  writing,  and 
arithmetic  are  "  all  the  pupils  are  expected  to  acquire  " ;  second,  there 
is  frequent  complaint  that  teachers  are  incompetent,  especially  in 
grammar  and  geography.  In  1858  the  State  commissioner  said :  "As 
the  chief  of  all  causes  of  poor  schools,  poor  teachers  stands  out.  That 
one-half,  or  one-tenth  (sic),  even  of  the  thousands  of  teachers  in 
Ohio  are  in  all  respects  what  their  profession  demands  no  one  can 
justly  claim."  45 

The  status  of  English  branches  in  academies  of  Ohio  in  this  decade 
(1850-1860)  may  be  seen  in  the  reports  of  typical  academies  made  to 
State  officials:46 


















The  status  of  grammar  in  New  Hampshire  schools  in  1850-1852  is 
indicated  by  the  report  of  the  county  commissioner  of  Rockingham 
County  for  the  year  1851.  The  commissioner  had  been  conducting  a 
campaign  against  the  multiplicity  of  schoolbooks  and  had  succeeded 
in  inducing  his  various  town  committees  to  recommend  uniform 
books  for  the  use  of  all  the  schools  in  their  towns.  He  records,  town 
by  town,  the  grammars  represented.  Thirty  towns  report.  Of  these, 
2  do  not  mention  books  recommended;  only  1  other  does  not 
mention  a  grammar.  Of  the  remaining  24  towns,  preference  is 
shown  in  14  for  W.  H.  Wells's  Grammar;  in  7  towns  for  Roswell 

«  Ibid.,  1852,  49. 

"Ibid.,  1856. 

«Ibid.,  1858,  61. 

"Kept.  State  Com.  Ed.,  1858,  168,  67,  66,  61,  59. 

60258°— 22 7 



Smith's  "  Productive  Lessons,"  and  in  6  towns  for  Weld's  "  Ne 
Grammar."  As  second  choice  (used  in  a  few  schools)  3  towns 
reported  Wells's,  4  Weld's,  and  6  Smith's.46a  The  total  number  of 
towns  in  Rockingham  County,  in  1852,  was  37,  with  455  schools  in 
operation.47  Scattered  references  in  reports  from  commissioners  of 
other  counties  indicate  that  Rockingham  is  typical.  In  Carroll 
County  the  commissioner  especially  examined  grammar  classes.48  In 
Cheshire  County  Institute  a  teacher  of  grammar  was  provided.49  Sul- 
livan County  named  a  number  of  towns  in  which  "  grammar  was 
better  taught  than  it  was  last  year."  50  In  Grafton  County  the  com- 
missioner emphasized  the  "  elements  of  grammar."  51  In  Coos  County 
children  of  12  were  passing  good  examinations  in  grammar.52 

The  report  of  the  State  commissioner  of  the  following  year  (1852) 
indicates  that  the  county  commissioners,  meeting  at  the  capital,  recom- 
mended a  uniform  system  of  textbooks,  among  them  H.  N.  Weld's 
New  Grammar  and  Dyer  H.  Sanborn's  Grammar.53  Several  county 
commissioners  endeavored  to  have  grammar  "  taught  understand- 
ingly,"  54  and  occasionally  there  crept  in  a  vigorous  advocacy  of  com- 
position as  supplementary  to  grammar.55  Cheshire  County  reported 
a  large  variety  of  grammars.56 


In  1857  the  superintendent  of  instruction  of  Michigan  asked  the 
officers  of  all  the  union  schools  57  to  furnish  him  information  upon  12 
points,  one  of  which  was  the  course  of  study  pursued  in  the  school. 
Replies  from  a  number  of  schools,  although  very  incomplete,  enable 
us  to  determine  the  status  of  grammar  in  the  curriculum.  The  normal 
grading  appears  to  be  reported  in  Dowagiac  union  school,  divided 
into  primar}-,  grammar  (or  intermediate),  and  high  school  depart- 
ments. Rudiments  of  grammar  were  begun  in  the  grammar  school 
(the  fifth  year  of  the  pupil's  school  life),  together  with  composition 
and  declamation.  The  high-school  department,  beginning  in  the 
seventh  year  of  school  life,  included  grammar,  composition,  analysis 
of  English  sentence,  declamation,  and  elocution.58  The  equivalent 
course  is  reported  in  Grand  Rapids,  Jonesville,  and  Ontonagon.59 
Ypsilanti,  in  the  grammar  department,  used  Clark's  Primary  Gram- 
mar, with  declamations  and  compositions  weekly;  in  the  academic 

48a  Kept.  Comm.  Scb.  N.  H.,  1852,  61-7.            «  Ibid.,  133. 

47  Op.  cit.,  1853,  64.  »  Ibid.,  1853,  29. 

48  Ibid.,  1852,  82.  "  Ibid-)  94. 

49  Ibid.,  105.  «*Ibid.,  96-7. 

60  Ibid.,  110.  "Ibid..   118. 

61  Ibid.,   121. 

57  A  term  embracing  all  the  public  schools  in  the  various  communities. 
68  Mich.   Sch.  Repts.,  1857,  457. 
89  Ibid.,   465,   7,   77. 

RAPID   RISE   OF   GRAMMAR   AFTER  1775.  99 

department,  Clark's  Grammar,  English  analysis,  original  and  selected 
declamations,  and  compositions  weekly.60  Coldwater  reported  the 
same  curriculum  with  different  textbooks.61  Ann  Arbor  High  School 
showed  English  grammar  in  its  first  year,62  while  Adrian  High  School 
required  an  entrance  examination  in  grammar,  analysis,  and  simple 
rules  for  composition.63 

Neither  the  academies  nor  the  common  schools  so  far  considered  are 
in  themselves  sufficient  to  determine  the  status  of  instruction  in  gram- 
mar. We  have  seen  that  the  common  schools  give  but  very  limited 
and  indifferent  instruction  in  the  subject  and  that  the  New  York 
academies,  looked  upon  as  fitting  schools  for  teachers,  had  special 
interest  in  grammar.  There  is  available  in  convenient  form  informa- 
tion from  the  printed  school  regulations  as  to  the  status  of  the  sub- 
ject obtaining  in  a  considerable  number  of  cities  of  representative 
distribution  throughout  the  Union.  The  regulations  of  New  York 
City;  Springfield,  Mass.;  New  Haven,  New  Bedford,  Boston,  Chi- 
cago, St.  Louis,  Louisville,  Philadelphia,  and  Cincinnati  are  studied 


In  the  primary  school  (common,  elementary,  or  district  school  in 
some  cities),  with  from  four  to  seven  grades,  the  formal  study  of 
grammar  was  not  begun.  There  is  exception  in  the  case  of  New 
Haven,  where  grammar  is  prescribed  for  the  sixth  and  seventh  grades 
of  the  common  school.  However,  this  city  seems  to  have  had  no  inter- 
mediate or  grammar  school.  By  1866  Chicago  had  also  adopted  the 
twofold  division — elementary  and  high  schools — and  grammar 
appears  in  the  eighth,  ninth,  and  tenth  grades.  The  latter  city 
announces,  however,  that  "  grammar  shall  be  taught  practically  in 
all  the  grades  in  connection  with  composition."  In  the  regulations 
of  all  the  other  cities  noted  a  similar  provision  is  made,  either  specifi- 
cally or  by  implication.  Eastern  cities  seem  to  lay  great  stress  on  oral- 
grammar  work  in  all  grades  except  the  first  two.  New  York  and  Cin- 
cinnati have  unique  courses  in  "  punctuation,"  running  through  all 
the  primary  grades.  Cincinnati,  insisting  upon  "  practical  "  gram- 
mar for  the  first  five  grades,  adds  "  and  pupils  in  grade  A  (sixth) 

«o  Ibid.,  476.  MIbid.,  440. 

61  Ibid.,  449.  e3  Ibid.,  434. 

"Data  in  Barnard's  Amer.  J.  of  Ed.,  1870,  469-518. 

In  the  Cincinnati  schools,  1860,  pupils  were  distributed  in  the  various  branches  of  Eng- 
lish as  follows:  High  schools — English  grammar,  174,  rhetoric,  294,  reading,  364,  compo- 
sition, 363,  declamation,  199 ;  intermediate  schools — reading  and  orthography,  1,179. 
English  grammar,  1,174,  penmanship,  1,179,  composition,  941,  elocution,  204  ;  in  the  dis- 
trict schools — alphabet,  4,632,  English  grammar,  421,  composition,  463,  elocution,  266. 
Common  Sch.  Cincin.,  31st  Ann.  Rept,  9.  The  principal  of  the  Woodward  High  School 
reported  that  "  grammar  is  now  well  taught  in  the  intermediate  schools."  Ibid.,  57.  The 
following  year  showed  a  total  of  2,682  pupils  in  grammar,  3,616  in  composition,  954  in 
elocution,  363  in  rhetoric  out  of  a  total  of  22,749  children  enrolled.    Ibid.,  1861,  9. 


shall  be  familiar  with  their  textbook  (in  grammar)  as  far  as  mode 
With  this  exception  the  fact  seems  to  be  that  no  formal  grammar  was 
taught  in  the  first  five  years  of  school  life,  that  it  was  rarely  taught  in 
the  sixth  year,  and  not  often  in  the  seventh.  Provision  for  incidental 
instruction  during  these  years  is  universal. 

In  the  intermediate  grades,  usually  called  grammar  grades,  the 
subject  reigned  supreme.  New  York,  after  her  six  years  in  punctua- 
tion, apparently  gave  twro  years  of  relief,  for  formal  grammar  study 
does  not  appear  until  the  third  year  of  the  grammar  school.  Not  till 
the  fifth  year  of  the  intermediate  schools  did  textbook  work  in  gram- 
mar begin,  but  it  had  been  taught  orally  for  the  two  years  preceding. 
In  the  fifth  year  "  English  grammar  commenced,  with  the  use  of  text- 
books, to  include  the  analysis,  parsing,  and  construction  of  simple 
sentences,  and  with  such  definitions  only  as  pertain  to  the  parts  of 
speech."  This  type  of  teaching  was  continued  for  the  two  following 

To  summarize,  New  York  began  formal  grammar  in  the  ninth  year 
of  school,  New  Haven  in  the  seventh,  Cincinnati  in  the  sixth,  Spring- 
field in  the  seventh,  New  Bedford  in  the  eighth,  Boston  in  the  eighth. 
Chicago  in  the  eighth,  St.  Louis  in  the  sixth,  Louisville  in  the  eighth, 
Philadelphia  in  the  eighth.  The  average  for  these  representative 
cities  was  about  the  eighth  grade. 

As  to  the  length  of  time  given  the  study  below  the  high  school,  New 
York  assigned  five  years  (two  orally) ;  New  Haven,  three  years;  New 
Bedford,  two  years ;  Cincinnati,  three  years ;  Springfield,  three  years ; 
Boston,  three  years;65  Chicago,  three  years;  St.  Louis,  two  years; 
Louisville,  three  years;  Philadelphia,  five  years.  The  average  time 
given,  apparently,  was  three  years.    This  does  not  consider  informal 

85  Boston  shows  the  normal  arrangement  of  three  schools,  as  follows  : 

Primary  school.  Six  grades.  No  traces  of  formal  grammar,  but  oral  instruction  in  all 
grades.     Grammar  incidental. 

Grammar  schools.  Four  grades.  Grammar  in  the  last  three  grades,  class  No.  3  using 
Kerl's  "  Elementary  English  Grammar,"  class  No.  2  using  Kerf's  "  Elementary  "  or  Kerl's 
"  Comprehensive  English  Grammar,"  class  No.  1,  grammar.  The  last  two  classes  have 
composition  and,  in  the  boys'  school,  declamation. 

Girls'  high  school.  Three  grades.  Entrance  examination  iu  grammar.  Lowest  class — 
grammar  reviewed,  analysis  of  language  and  structure  of  sentences,  composition. 

English  high  school.     Three  grades.     Entrance  examination  in  grammar. 

"  The  several  classes  shall  also  have  exercises  in  English  composition  and  declamation. 
The  instructors  shall  pay  particular  attention  to  the  penmanship  of  the  pupils  and  give 
constantly  such  attention  to  spelling,  reading,  and  English  grammar  as  they  may  deem 
necessary  to  make  the  pupils  familiar  with  these  fundamental  branches  of  a  good 

The  regulations  of  the  English  high  schools  for  1820,  date  of  founding,  required  gram- 
mar in  the  lowest  class,  with  composition,  criticism,  and  declamation  in  all  the  classes. 
By  1886  grammar  as  a  formal  study  had  been  dropped  ;  for  the  first  class,  however,  were 
prescribed  "  reviews  of  the  preparatory  studies  in  the  textbooks  authorized  to  be  used  in 
the  grammar  and  writing  schools,"  and  the  provision  was  that  "  the  several  divisions  shall 
also  receive  instruction  in  spelling,  reading,  writing,  English  grammar,  declamation,  com- 
position, and  the  French  language."  In  the  successive  regulations  of  1820,  1836.  and 
1852  we  see  the  process  of  forcing  formal  grammar  into  the  lower  school  and  retaining 
Incidental  study  of  it  in  the  high  school,  with  entrance  examination  required. 



study  of  grammar  or  collateral  study  in  connection  with  composition 
either  before  or  after  the  formal  study.  Philadelphia  was  the  only 
city  on  the  list  requiring  textbook  study  for  five  years. 

The  position  of  grammar  in  the  high  schools  was  as  follows:  In 
some  cities  an  entrance  examination  or  certificate  of  proficiency  from 
the  grammar  school  was  required,  as  in  New  York  and  Boston ;  in  some 
cities  review  courses  were  prescribed  in  the  first  year  of  the  high 
school,  as  in  Louisville,  Philadelphia,  and  others ;  in  still  other  cities 
grammar  was  designated  as  an  incidental  study  in  the  high  school — in 
all  three  grades  of  the  Boston  high  school  and  in  the  last  three  grades 
in  New  Haven.66 

Further  light  upon  the  status  of  grammar  in  the  high-school  cur- 
riculum of  1867  is  found  in  a  study  made  from  the  official  regulations 
of  29  cities  published  in  1870.  The  original  study  includes  all  the 
subjects  mentioned  in  the  statutes  as  being  taught  in  the  high  school. 
The  following  table67  indicates  only  the  subjects  pertaining  to  the 
vernacular : 



























Fond  du  Lac  (Wis.).. 
















Madison  (Wis.) 











Niles  (Mich  ) 



Philadelphia . 



Portland  (Me.) 


















Spelling  and  English  synonyms  appear  in  the  statutes  of  5  cities, 
reading  in  12,  declamation  in  17,  English  literature  in  21,  composi- 
tion in  23,  grammar  in  23,  and  rhetoric  in  27.    However,  the  data  are 

66  In  St.  Louis  grammar  was  begun  as  a  textbook  study  in  the  sixth  grade  of  the  district 
school ;  the  first  quarter  to  page  27  ;  second,  46 ;  third,  58  ;  fourth,  75  ;  continued  in  sev- 
enth grade,  first  quarter  to  page  100  ;  second,  122  ;  third,  164  ;  fourth,  review.  The  subject 
was  then  dropped  until  the  first  year  of  the  high  school,  in  the  first  year  of  which  English 
parsing  and  analysis  are  prescribed. 

In  Louisville  no  grammar  was  shown  in  the  four  years  of  the  primary  department ;  in 
the  intermediate  department  there  was  oral  instruction  based  on  the  readers,  in  which  the 



ambiguous,  because  a  number  of  the  cities  are  listed  in  the  above  table 
as  giving  grammar  whose  educational  statutes,  printed  in  the  sam 
volume,  do  not  require  it.  Among  them  are  Boston,  Chicago,  and  Cin 
cinnati,  which,  according  to  the  statutes,  had  grammar  in  the  high 
school  only  as  an  incidental  study;  yet  these  cities  are  listed  in  the 
table  as  teaching  grammar  in  the  high  school.  This  fact  indicates  the 
only  inference  that  can  safely  be  drawn  from  the  table,  namely,  that 
23  of  the  29  cities  prescribe  grammar  in  some  form,  either  (1)  as  a 
regular  subject,  supplementing  a  two  or  three  year  course  in  the  inter- 
mediate schools,  as  in  New  Haven,  or  (2)  as  a  review  course,  lasting 
one  or  two  terms,  as  in  New  York,  or  (3)  as  incidental  or  supplemen- 
tary work  in  connection  with  composition  or  rhetoric,  as  in  Boston, 
Chicago,  and  Cincinnati. 

pupils  "  repeat  orally  and  in  writing,  in  their  own  language,  the  substance  of  each  les- 
son "  ;  in  the  grammar  department  of  three  years  "  they  shall  be  taught  all  the  lessons 
in  Butler's  Large  Grammar  to  syntax.  They  shall  also  be  taught  to  parse  words  in 
simple  sentences  not  found  in  the  grammar."  This  is  for  the  first  year.  In  the  second 
"  the  same  ...  to  prosody ;  to  compare  adjectives  and  adverbs,  to  decline  nouns  and 
pronouns  and  to  conjugate  verbs,  in  writing.  They  shall  also  be  taught  to  parse  all  the 
parsing  exercises  in  said  lessons  and  to  parse  words  in  sentences  not  found  in  the  gram- 
mar." For  the  third  year  Butler's  grammar  was  prescribed  complete.  The  girls'  high 
school  had  English  grammar  and  composition  throughout  the  first  year.  The  boys'  high 
school  seems  to  have  had  no  grammar. 

Philadelphia  had  no  grammar  in  the  four  years  of  the  primary  or  five  years  of  the 
secondary  departments.  In  the  grammar-school  department  of  five  years  the  instruction 
was  the  most  elaborate  the  writer  has  found.  In  the  first  and  second  years  Hart's  "  Intro- 
duction "  or  Parker's  through  the  nine  parts  of  speech,  including  the  simple  rules  ef 
syntax  ;  in  the  third  year  Hall's  or  Parker's  introductory  work  completed  and  construction 
of  simple  sentences  within  the  same  limits  ;  in  the  fourth  year  Hall's  or  Parker's  English 
Grammar  commenced  and  continued  to  the  rules  of  syntax  ;  parsing  and  construction  of 
sentences  and  correction  of  false  syntax ;  in  the  fifth  year  Hall's  or  Parker's  completed 
and  reviewed.  Directions  for  teachers  are  :  ''  The  disputed  points  or  matters  far  above 
the  pupils'  capacity  should  never  be  dwelt  upon.  The  teacher's  object  must  be  rather  to 
impart  such  a  knowledge  of  the  construction  of  the  language  as  will  enable  the  pupil  to 
speak  and  write  with  a  reasonable  degree  of  correctness." 

•'Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  1870,643. 

Chapter  V. 



From  the  very  beginning  it  seems  that  English  grammar  was 
intended  to  perform  for  the  mother  tongue  the  same  functions  Latin 
grammar  performed  for  that  language.  The  aim  of  grammar 
schools — to  make  finished  writers  and  speakers  of  Latin — was  paral- 
leled by  the  aim  of  English  schools  in  America,  patterned  after 
Franklin's  Academy — to  make  finished  writers  and  speakers  of  the 
vernacular.  In  each  the  grammatical  study  of  the  languages  was  fun- 
damental. As  the  requirements  of  practical  life  in  America  seemed 
to  demand  less  Latin  and  more  English,  and  as  the  English  schools 
more  and  more  took  on  the  dignity  formerly  held  by  the  Latin  schools, 
English  grammar  advanced  correspondingly  to  a  more  prominent 
place  in  the  curriculum.  This  identity  of  function  is  powerfully 
supported  by  the  striking  similarity  in  content  and  in  methods  of 
study  as  expounded  by  textbook  makers. 

The  present  and  the  succeeding  chapter  trace  the  changes  in  meth- 
ods of  teaching  which  have  marked  the  successive  stages  of  English 
grammar  in  American  schools  between  1750  and  1850.68  Roughly, 
this  aspect  of  the  study  may  be  outlined  in  two  grand  divisions,  each 
consisting  of  three  subdivisions  of  approximately  25  years : 

I.  Grammar  as  an  art. 

(a)  Latin  period,  1750  to  1784. 

(b)  Rote  period,  1784  to  1823. 

(c)  Parsing  period,  1823  to  1847. 

II.  Grammar  as  a  science. 

(a)  Analysis  period,  1848  to  1873. 

(b)  Rhetorical  period,  1873  to  1891. 

(c)  Incidental  study  period,  1891  to  1920. 

The  two  main  divisions  are  based  upon  the  fundamental  conception 
of  grammar  held  by  the  leading  grammarians.69    About  1850  the  idea 

88  A  later  study  will  carry  the  Investigation  down  to  1920. 

•  The  term  "  leading  grammarians  "  is  perhaps  misleading.  The  connotation  intended 
is  to  designate  authors  leading  in  influence  upon  school  practices.  In  this  sense  Murray 
is  the  leading  grammarian  in  this  country  up  to  1850.  The  date  of  his  textbook  (1795) 
is  not  selected  as  a  dividing  point  in  the  outline,  because  the  date  of  Webster's  Grammar 



that  grammar  is  an  art  was  changed  to  the  idea  that  grammar  is  a 
science.  To  the  various  subdivisions  names  have  been  given  on  the 
basis  of  the  one  method  predominating  during  the  period  involved. 
The  chronological  limits  of  the  periods  have  been  marked  by  the 
date  of  an  innovating  textbook  of  widespread  influence  or  by  some 
other  important  or  culminating  event  explained  in  the  course  of  the 

The  year  1848  does  not  mark  a  sharp  breaking  away  from  the 
conception  of  grammar  as  an  art,  for  progress  in  methods  of  teach- 
ing can  not  be  marked  by  exact  dates.  Long  before  any  important 
change  becomes  prevalent  in  all  or  in  almost  all  schools,  far-seeing 
teachers  are  discarding  the  old  and  experimenting  with  the  new. 
For  instance,  before  1848  some  grammarians  had  substituted  the  sen- 
tence for  the  word  as  the  unit  of  instruction ;  long  after  1848  many 
textbook  makers  clung  tenaciously  to  the  word  as  the  unit  of  study. 
Grammarians  earlier  than  Greene  (1848)  had  made  their  point  of 
departure  the  analysis  of  sentences;  but  Greene  seems  to  have  come  at 
the  opportune  moment,  when  schoolmen  were  aroused,  when  disgust 
with  old  methods  had  reached  a  crisis.  His  book  became  exceedingly 
popular ;  he  had  many  followers.  The  date  of  his  grammar  marks  the 
chief  turning  point  in  our  discussion  of  methods.  In  a  similar  way 
the  significance  of  the  major  event  which  marks  each  step  in  the  out- 
line will  be  considered  in  detail  through  1850.  The  point  to  be  borne 
in  mind  is  that  great  changes  in  methods  are  not  instantaneously 
inaugurated ;  they  are  matters  of  slow  and  painful  growth. 

One  further  word  of  explanation.  The  names  given  to  the  six 
periods  are  titles  of  predominating  metheds.  A  possible  criticism 
of  this  nomenclature  is  that  parsing,  for  example,  is  as  old  as  gram- 
mar itself  and  will  continue  in  some  form  as  long  as  grammar  is 
studied.  Granted  that  this  is  true.  The  evidence  presented  for  the 
years  1823-1848  seems  to  indicate  that  amid  the  passing  of  the  old 
and  the  coming  in  of  the  new  methods  parsing  was  the  method  par 
excellence.  The  same  comment  is  pertinent  to  all  the  other  periods 
except  the  first.  The  confusing  element  here  is  that  Latinized  meth- 
ods exerted  a  strong  influence  in  a  great  majority  of  schools  through 
the  entire  nineteenth  century  and  are  with  us  to-day,  though  happily 
in  diminishing  emphasis.  Noah  Webster  was  right  when  he  said 
that  it  requires  the  club  of  Hercules  wielded  by  the  arm  of  a  giant  to 
destroy  the  hydra  of  educational  prejudice. 

(1784)  more  closely  approximates  the  close  of  the  Revolution.  Moreover,  in  influence  upon 
the  schools  Webster  and  Murray  were  very  similar.  Regarded  in  another  sense,  Murray 
was  far  from  a  leading  grammarian,  for  he  was  a  confessed  compiler,  frankly  indebted  to 
Lowth;  Priestley,  and  the  British  grammar.  He  was  a  follower,  not  a  leader,  in  constructive 
grammatical  scholarship,  being  in  this  regard  below  Noah  Webster.  Throughout  this 
chapter  grammatical  thinkers  have  our  attention  only  in  so  far  as  it  can  be  shown  that 
they  exerted  a  direct  influence  upon  the  school  practices  of  their  day. 


The  methods  of  the  early  Latinists  71  seem  to  have  cast  their  baneful 
influence  over  the  entire  four  centuries  during  which  the  vernacular 
has  been  building  for  itself  a  suitable  grammatical  study.  At  any 
rate,  the  Latin  and  the  Kote  periods  are  really  one  and  the  same.  The 
writer  has  no  particular  pride  in  maintaining  strict  chronological 
balance  in  his  outline,  except  that  he  thinks  it  helpful  to  divide  the 
period  1750  to  1823  into  two  parts.  The  other  five  periods  are  useful 
limitations  both  as  to  time  and  title.  The  following  study  of  the 
interrelations  of  these  periods  may  throw  some  light  upon  what  has 
been  heretofore  a  confused  and  confusing  field. 


An  examination  of  a  series  of  definitions  of  grammar  taken  from 
influential  textbooks  72  indicates  that  grammar  was  considered  an  art 
in  the  texts  which  determined  the  earliest  instruction  in  America. 

Ben  Johnson :  Grammar  is  the  art  of  true  and  well-speaking  a  language ;  the 
writing  of  it  is  an  accident.74 

Lily :  Grammatica  est  recte  scribendi,  atque  loquendi  ars." 

Wharton :  Grammar  is  the  Art  of  Writing,  and  Speaking,  well/" 

Brightland : 

Grammar  do's  all  the  Art  and  Knowledge  teach, 
According  to  the  Use  of  every  Speech, 
How  our  Thoughts  most  justly  may  express 
In  Words,  together  join'd,  in  Sentences.76 

Greenwood:  Grammar  is  the  Art  of  Speaking  rightly.  1  have  left  out  the  Art 
of  Writing,  because  that  is  an  Accident  of  Speech,  and  none  but  the  essential  or 
chief  Things  ought  to  be  put  into  a  definition." 

Dilworth:  Grammar  is  the  Science  of  Letters,  or  the  Art  of  Writing  and 
Speaking  properly  and  syntactically.78 

Fisher :  Grammar  is  the  Art  of  expressing  the  Relation  of  Things  in  Con- 
struction, with  due  Accent  in  Speaking,  and  Orthography  in  Writing,  according 
to  the  Custom,  of  those  whose  Language  we  learn.™ 

British :  Grammar  is  the  Art  of  Expressing  the  Relations  of  Words  in  Con- 
struction, with  due  Quantity  in  Speaking  and  Orthography  in  Writing.80 

Lowth :  Grammar  is  the  Art  of  rightly  expressing  our  Thoughts  by  Words.81 

Priestley :  The  grammar  of  any  tongue  is  a  collection  of  observations  on  the 
structure  of  it,  and  a  system  of  rules  for  the  proper  use  of  it.88 

71  "  Latinists  "  is  the  term  repeatedly  used  by  Franklin. 

72  An  attempt  is  made  here  to  select  for  comparison  books  which  immediately  preceded 
the  beginnings  of  grammatical  instruction  in  America  :  First,  books  upon  which  English 
grammar  was  founded  ;  second,  books  which,  printed  In  England  in  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury, were  imported  or  reprinted  in  America  and  used  as  textbooks  ;  and,  third,  books 
written  by  American  authors  which  were  most  influential  before  1825.  The  text  selected 
and  the  editions  used  are  named  in  the  bibliography. 

73  Lily,  op.  clt.,  1.  78  Dilworth,  op.  cit.,  85. 

74  Johnson,  op.  cit.,   3.  7»  Fisher,  op.  cit.,  1. 

75  Wharton,  op.  cit.,  1.  80  British,  op.  cit.,   1. 
n  Brightland,  op.   cit.,  1.  81  Lowth,  op.  cit,  1. 

77  Greenwood,  op.  cit.,  48.  a  Priestly,  op.  cit.,  1. 



Alexander :  Grammar  teaches  the  Art  of  expressing  and  communicating  o 
thoughts  with  verbal  propriety.83 

Murray:  English  Grammar  is  the  art  of  speaking  and  writing  the  English 
language  with  propriety."4 

Webster:  Grammar  is  the  art  of  communicating  thoughts  by  words  with 
propriety  and  dispatch.85 

Brown:  English  Grammar  is  the  art  of  speaking  and  writing  the  English  Lan- 
guage correctly.88 

Brightland  uses  the  definition  "Art  and  Knowledge,  according  to 
the  Use  of  every  Speech,  how  we  our  Thoughts  express  in  Sentences  " ; 
that  is,  the  idea — knowledge  of  the  use  of  language  in  sentences — 
seems  to  be  prominent.  But  our  feeling  that  the  author  of  Bright- 
land's  textbook  may  have  had  an  inkling  in  1706  of  the  modern  con- 
ception of  grammar  as  a  science  is  quickly  dispelled.  We  find  him 
explaining  in  a  footnote :  "  The  modern  as  well  as  the  old  gram- 
marians have  given  us  various  Definitions  of  this  useful  Art." 87 
Greenwood,  who  is  a  close  follower  of  Jonson,  in  his  edition  of  1711, 
calls  writing  an  accident;  but  in  his  third  edition  (1747)  he  changes 
his  definition  to  "  English  Grammar  is  the  art  of  speaking  and  writ- 
ing the  English  language  with  propriety."  This  definition  Murray 
copies  exactly. 

Dilworth  uses  the  word  "  science,"  but  he  speaks  of  the  science  of 
letters,  which  he  considers  the  art  of  speaking  and  writing  properly. 
Priestley  certainly  states  the  modern  conception  in  his  definition,  but 
his  apparant  insight  is  misleading,  for,  in  spite  of  certain  innovations 
in  method  to  be  considered  later,  he  treats  grammar  as  an  art.  The 
true  nature  of  grammar  had  apparently  not  even  remotely  suggested 
itself  to  Webster  when  in  1784  he  wrote  his  first  grammar.  At  that 
time  his  definition  is :  "  Grammar  is  the  Art  of  communicating 
thought."  By  1790  the  light  seems  to  have  dimly  dawned  upon  him, 
for  in  the  preface  to  his  "  Rudiments  of  Grammar "  he  affirms : 
"  Rules  are  drawn  from  the  most  general  and  approved  practice,  and 
serve  to  teach  young  students  how  far  their  own  practice  in  speaking 
agrees  with  the  general  practice."88  In  a  later  grammar  (1831)  he 
goes  still  further.  His  definition  now  is :  UA  system  of  general  prin- 
ciples, derived  from  the  national  distinction  of  words,  deduced  from 
the  customary  forms  of  speech  in  the  nation  using  that  language."  89 
Here,  certainly,  Webster  has  gone  far  toward  the  modern  conception 
that  grammar  comes  after  a  language  has  been  in  use;  that  it  is  a 
statement  of  principles  of  usage  as  found  in  the  spoken  and  written 
communication  of  the  most  expert.  The  principles  of  this  science  are 
to  be  found  by  minute  analysis  of  wholes  into  parts,  with  consequent 

88  Alexander,  op.  cit.,  3.  86  Brown,  op.  cit.,  15. 

84  Murray,  op.  cit.,  7.  8T  Brightland,  op.   cit.,   1,  footnote. 

85  Webster,  op.  cit,  5.  88  Webster,   Rudiments,   2. 
88  Webster,  An  Improved  Gram,  of  the  Eng.  Tongue,  3. 


generalizations  to  establish  general  principles.  But  Webster  at  first 
apparently  had  only  a  mere  glimmer  of  the  truth.  He  treated  gram- 
mar as  an  art  of  building  up  wholes  from  smaller  parts. 

Finally,  Goold  Brown,  whom  we  shall  see  even  as  late  as  1851  the 
last  prominent  fighter  of  the  old  guard,  still  championed  the  concep- 
tion of  grammar  as  an  art  when  nearly  everyone  else  had  abandoned 
it.  He  said  in  1823 :  "  Grammar  is  the  art  of  speaking  and  writing 
the  language  correctly."  This  was  the  common  conception  held  by 
grammarians  up  to  the  middle  of  the  nineteenth  century. 

The  force  which  fastened  this  conception  so  firmly  is  undoubtedly 
the  force  of  tradition.  Even  the  word  grammar  is  from  the  Greek 
gramma,  a  letter.  These  characters  are  the  elements  of  written  lan- 
guage, as  articulate  sounds  are  the  elements  of  spoken  language. 
Hence,  from  the  very  derivation  of  the  word,  one  seems  bound  to 
start  with  the  simplest  elements  and  build  up  the  more  complex  forms. 
The  natural  and  easy  way  to  learn  had  always  seemed  to  be  to  pro- 
ceed from  the  element  to  the  complex  structure.  Letters,  syllables, 
words,  sentences — this  makes  a  seemingly  more  logical  sequence  than 
the  reverse  process.  The  child  says  "  water  "  if  he  is  thirsty.  To-day 
it  is  recognized  that  he  means  a  sentence — "  I  want  water."  Conse- 
quently the  process  of  learning  in  both  reading  and  writing  (composi- 
tion) to-day  proceeds  from  the  whole  to  the  part.  But  to  attain  this 
new  conception  has  been  a  matter  of  slow  and  painful  growth.  In  it 
we  have  come  to  realize  that  grammar,  the  science  of  sentences,  is  a 
matter  of  late  study,  if,  indeed,  it  need  ever  be  taught  to  children 
trained  by  imitation  to  speak  and  write  accurately. 

The  truth  is  that  the  term  grammar — the  art  of  letters — is  a  mis- 
nomer, considering  our  modern  conception  of  the  subject.  However, 
our  intent  here  is  merely  to  state  the  apparent  cause  of  the  earlier 


We  shall  now  consider  how  the  methods  of  study  pursued  in  Latin 
grammars  were  carried  over  into  the  study  of  English.  In  "  The 
Epistle  to  the  Reader,"  in  all  editions  of  Lily,  we  find  specific  recom- 
mendations as  to  classroom  procedure. 

First,  Colet  urges  that  progress  be  very  slow ; 90  also  that  there  be 
liberal  oral  rehearsing  of  all  parts  until  they  be  perfectly  mastered 
mechanically.91    Perfect  "  without  book  "  is  an  expression  one  meets 

•°  "  The  first  and  chiefest  point  is,  that  the  diligent  master  make  not  the  schollar  haste 
too  much."     Lily,  Epistle,   2. 

wMake  him  to  rehearse  so,  that  until  he  hath  perfectly  that,  which  is  behinde,  he 
suffer  him  not  to  go  forwarde ;  .  .  .  the  best  and  chiefest  point  ...  is,  that  the  schollar 
have  in  minde  so  perfectly  that,  that  he  hath  learned,  and  understood  it  so,  that  not  only 
it  be  not  a  stoppe  for  him,  but  also  a  light  and  helpe  unto  the  residue  that  followeth." 


again  and  again  in  pedagogical  discussions  of  the  time.92  This  was 
to  be  accomplished  by  numerous  repetitions,  frequent  rehearsals,  and 
periodical  examinations  by  the  teacher.93 

In  this  laborious  fashion  the  pupil  is  to  make  himself  master  of 
every  declension  of  nouns  and  conjugation  of  verbs.  He  is  to  be  able 
to  decline  and  conjugate  forward  and  backward.94  Until  this  is  done 
the  pupils  are  not  allowed  to  go  forward. 

From  this  mastery  of  paradigms  the  pupil  is  to  pass  to  an  equally 
difficult  study  of  the  "  Concordes."  These  are  to  be  learned  with 
"  plaine  and  sundrie  examples,  and  continuall  rehearsall  of  things 
learned,  and  especially  the  daily  declining  of  the  verb,  and  turning  it 
into  all  fashions."  95  Schoolmasters  are  advised  that  subsequent  les- 
sons will  be  easy  if  "  the  foregrounds  be  well  and  thoroughly  beaten 
in."  96  Probably  no  pun  was  intended,  but  the  phrase  perhaps  gave 
church  authority  for  a  common  method  of  persuading  reluctant  pupils 
to  their  tasks. 

After  these  studies  of  the  concords  the  pupil  is  to  "  learn  some  petty 
book  containing  .  .  .  good  plain  lessons  of  honesty  and  godliness."  9T 
Then  is  to  follow  the  translation  of  English  sentences  from  the  book 
into  Latin  and  the  learning  of  the  rules  of  syntax  which  govern  the 
construction.  The  Latin  sentences  are  to  be  repeated  in  the  words  of 
the  book.98  This  sets  another  premium  upon  slavish  memorizing.  In 
all  this  the  pupil  is  never  to  be  idle,  but  "  alwaies  occupied  in  a  con- 
tinual rehearsing,  and  looking  back  again  to  those  things  they  had 
learned."  99  Constant  reviewing  is  the  unbroken  order  of  the  day. 
Every  process  is  based  upon  knowledge  of  the  rules.100 

•*  "  That  they  have  daily  some  speciall  exercise  of  the  memory,  by  repeating  somewhat 
without  booke  ;  as  a  part  in  their  rules  the  foure  first  dales  of  the  weeke  ...  all  the  rules 
of  the  weeke  on  the  Saturday."  Brinsley,  Ludus  Literaris,  51. 

M  In  East  Retford  the  first  part  of  the  morning  in  the  first  four  days  of  the  school  week 
was  devoted  to  saying  over  "  one  of  the  Eight  Parts  of  Speech  like  as  the  manner  and 
fashion  of  all  grammar  Schools,  and  upon  Friday  Sum  es  tui,  with  his  compounds,  as 
shall  seem  to  the  School-master  convenient."     Carlisle,  op.  cit.,  II,  282,  Statutes,  1552. 

"  This  is  all  that  I  have  used  :  To  let  them  reade  it  (The  Accedence)  over  every  one  by 
himselfe  by  lessons.  .  .  .  Thus  I  make  them  reade  over  their  Accidence  .  .  .  before  they 
do  get  it  without  booke.  Secondly,  for  getting  it  without  booke,  I  cause  them  ...  to  say 
it  as  oft  as  they  can.'      Brinsley,  op.  cit.,  53. 

•*  "  Wherein  it  is  profitable,  not  only  that  he  can  orderly  decline  his  noune,  and  his 
verbe,  but  everyway,  forward,  backward,  by  cases,  by  persons  :  that  neither  case  of  noune, 
nor  person  of  verbe  can  be  required,  that  hee  cannot  without  stoppe  or  studie  tell.  And 
unto  this  time  I  count  not  the  schollar  perfect  nor  readie  to  go  any  further.  .  .  ."  Lily, 
op.  cit.,  3. 

»B  Ibid. 

*>Ibid.,  3. 

"Ibid.,   4. 

••"Therefore  (from  the  book)  take  some  little  sentence,  as  it  lieth,  and  learne  to  make 
the  same  out  of  English  into  Latine,  not  seeing  the  booke,  or  construing  it  there  upon 
.  .  .  which  sentence  well  made,  and  as  nigh  as  may  be  with  the  wordes  of  the  booke." 
Lily,  op.  cit.,  3. 

"Ibid.,  4. 

ioo  "  jf  tne  maister  give  him  an  English  booke  and  cause  him  ordinarily  to  turne  it  every 
day  some  part  into  Latine.     This  exercise  cannot  be  done  without  his  rules."     Ibid.,  4. 


The  final  step  is  teaching  pupils  to  speak  Latin.  This  is  to  be 
accomplished  by  drill  until  "  a  man  is  clean  past  the  use  of  this  gram- 
mar booke,"  until  he  is  as  "  readie  as  his  booke."  Then  he  is  perfected 
"  in  the  tongue  handsomely."  * 

In  order  to  determine  more  certainly  what  the  classroom  practices 
of  the  early  Latin  study  were,  we  may  supplement  the  summary  of 
suggestions  of  Colet,  in  Lily,  with  the  advice  of  the  schoolmaster, 
Brinsley.  His  book  was  written  in  1612,  when  Lily  was  most  popular 
in  the  grammar  schools.  It  may  be  taken  as  reliable  evidence  of  the 
practice  of  his  day,  perhaps  in  the  most  advanced  practice.  In  "  The 
Grammar  School  "  Brinsley  devotes  a  chapter  to  the  topic  "  How  to 
make  children  perfect  in  the  Accidence."  The  following  chapters  dis- 
cuss the  other  parts  of  instruction  in  Latin.  Brinsley's  exposition 
appears  to  be  entirely  consistent  with  Colet's,  given  above.  He  has  his 
pupils  (1)  read  over  their  lessons  many  times;  (2)  learn  every  rule, 
with  title,  "  without  booke  ";  (3)  recite,  one  by  one;  (4)  get  accidence 
without  book;  (5)  repeat  the  beginnings  of  rules  in  a  connected  title, 
"  without  booke  "  (he  insists  that  the  principal  duty  is  to  get  rules 
without  book)  ;  (6)  go  through  weekly  repetitions  to  prevent  forget- 
ting; (7)  learn  very  little  at  a  time  (the  pupil  is  to  be  letter-perfect  in 
each  part  before  proceeding) ;  and  (8)  answer  questions  in  the  book. 

He  has  the  master  (1)  explain  difficult  parts,  construe  and  show 
meanings;  (2)  use  the  question-and-answer  method;  (3)  constantly 
call  for  examples  of  rules — the  examples  given  in  the  book;  (4)  hear 
parts,  making  the  pupil  repeat  his  rule;  (5)  spend  a  month  in  making 
the  accidence  perfect;  (6)  give  continual  practice  in  parsing;  (7) 
keep  the  rules  in  mind  (by  making  scholars  learn  perfectly,  constant 
repetition,  continual  care  for  parts,  repeating  often  the  summes  of 
rules,  applying  examples) ;  (8)  endeavor  to  make  the  grammar  a  dic- 
tionary in  their  minds;  (9)  apply  a  prescribed  formula  for  constru- 
ing (construe  the  vocative  first,  the  principal  verb  next,  then  the 
adverb,  then  the  case  which  the  verb  governs,  and,  last,  the  substantive 
and  adjective)  ;  (10)  hear  them  parse  every  word  as  they  construe, 
accompanying  the  parsing  with  rule  and  example;  (11)  follow  by 
theme  writing  and  verse  making;  and  (12)  give  constant  practice  in 
the  upper  forms  in  speaking  Latin.2 

1  An  interesting  pedagogical  doctrine,  certainly  sound,  appears  paradoxically  in  the 
midst  of  this  insistence  upon  minute  mastery  of  details.  It  is  a  caution  against  mere  rote 
memorizing.  "  This  when  he  can  perfectly  doe,  and  hath  learned  every  point,  not  by  rote 
but  by  reason,  and  is  cunninger  in  the  understanding  of  the  thing,  than  in  rehearsing  of 
the  words  .  .  ."  Lily,  op.  cit.,  3.  Thus  as  early  as  1541,  at  least,  was  uttered  a  protest 
against  what  was  to  be  for  nearly  three  centuries  the  curse  of  all  grammar  teaching  in 
the  mother  tongue. 

•Brinsley,  op.  cit.,  53-145. 


In  this  list  the  endeavor  has  been  to  select  20  of  the  leading  prin- 
ciples of  instruction  advocated  by  Philoponus,  the  character  in  Brins- 
ley's  dialogue,  who  represents  the  better  type  of  teaching.3  In  some 
cases  the  suggestions  have  been  taken  from  the  mouth  of  Spondeus, 
the  representative  in  the  dialogue  of  the  poorer  teachers  of  his  day. 

To  the  testimony  of  Colet  and  Brinsley  may  be  added  the  practices 
of  Roger  Ascham  in  teaching  Latin  grammar,  as  set  forth  in  "  The 
Schoolmaster,"  1563. 

(A)  Preparatory:  Learn  perfectly  the  eight  parts  of  speech  and 
the  joining  together  of  substantives  with  adjectives,  verbs  with  nouns, 
relatives  with  antecedents. 

(B)  Double  translation:  1.  The  master  is  to  construe  the  model 
book  for  the  child  that  he  may  understand. 

2.  Then  the  pupil  is  to  parse  and  construe,  as  the  master  has  done 
for  him,  often  enough  for  the  pupil  to  understand. 

3.  The  lesson  is  to  be  translated  into  English  in  a  paper  book. 

4.  After  an  hour  he  is  to  translate  his  English  back  into  the  Latin 
in  another  paper  book. 

5.  The  master  is  to  examine  these  translations  and  lead  the  pupil 
until  he  is  able  "  to  fetch  out  of  his  grammar  every  Bule  for  every 
example ;  so  as  the  grammar  book  be  ever  in  the  scholar's  hands,  and 
also  used  of  him  as  a  Dictionary  for  every  present  Use." 

6.  The  master  is  to  compare  the  pupil's  Latin  with  the  original  in 
the  model  book. 

"  With  this  way  of  good  Understanding  the  matter,  plain  constru- 
ing, diligent  parsing,  cheerful  admonishing,  and  heedful  amending 
of  Faults;  never  leaving  behind  just  praise  for  well  doing:  I  would 
have  the  Scholar  brought  up." 

(C)  Analysis:  1.  Give  him  longer  lessons  to  translate.  "Begin 
to  teach  him,  both  in  Nouns  and  Verbs,  what  is  Proprium,  and  what  is 
Translabum  (figurative),  what  Synonym,  what  Diversion,  which  be 
Contraria,  and  which  be  most  notable  Phrases,  in  all  his  Lecture 

2.  Let  him  write  four  of  these  forenamed  six  diligently  marked 
out  of  every  lesson  in  a  third  paper  book.4 

(D)  Reading:  1.  "I  would  have  him  read  now,  a  good  deal  at 
every  Lecture,  some  book  of  Cicero,  Caesar,  etc." 

2.  "  He  shall  now  use  daily  Translation,  but  only  construe  again 
and  parse.  ...  Yet  let  him  not  omit  in  these  Books  his  former 
Exercise,  in  mastering  diligently  and  writing  orderly." 

8  An  admirable  statement  of  the  methods  used  in  the  grammar  schools  in  1818  appears 
in  Carlisle,  "  Endowed  Grammar  School,"  1818,  828-30.  It  begins  :  "  When  the  Pupil  has 
committed  to  memory.  The  Accidence,  Propria  quae  maribus,  etc.  .  .  ,  The  account 
tallies  in  very  many  details  with  the  methods  laid  down  by  Colet  and  Brinsley,  and  indi- 
cates that  Latin  instruction  had  remained  in  scope  and  method  relatively  stable  for  three 
hundred  years. 

*  Ascham,  The  Schoolmaster,  Mayor,  1-9. 


3.  The  master  is  to  translate  some  easy  Latin  into  good  English, 
the  pupil  to  translate  it  into  Latin  again. 

4.  The  master  is  to  compare  the  pupiPs  work  with  the  original. 
(E)  Third  kind  of  translation:  1.  The  master  is  to  write  some 

letter  in  English,  as  if  from  the  boy's  father,  or  copy  some  fable. 
2.  The  pupil  is  to  translate  it  into  Latin.5 



"  The  book  itself  will  make  anyone  a  grammarian."  Thus  spoke 
Goold  Brown  in  his  grammar  of  1823. 6  His  statement  fittingly  char- 
terizes  the  attitude  of  teachers  and  writers  7  throughout  the  entire 
course  of  English  grammar  down  to  1823,  and,  unfortunately,  the 
same  attitude  has  not  entirety  disappeared  to-day.  We  have  just  seen 
a  summary  of  methods  used  in  teaching  Latin  grammar.  We  now 
turn  to  the  task  of  showing  that  they  were  carried  over  directly  into 
English  in  the  spirit  voiced  by  Goold  Brown  as  late  as  1823. 


This  principle  is  worthy  of  mention  first  because  it  underlies  almost 
all  of  the  methods  to  be  considered  later.  We  have  seen  that  Colet,  in 
his  "  Epistle,"  asserts  that  "  the  first  and  chiefest  point  is,  that  the 
diligent  Maister  make  not  the  scholar  haste  too  much  "  and  that  he 
make  him  get  "  perfectly  that  which  is  behind  "  before  "  he  suffer 
him  to  go  forwards."  8  Brinsley  supports  this  plan.  The  children 
are  first  to  get  their  letters,  then  to  spell,  then  to  join  syllables 
together,  then  to  go  through  the  A  B  C's  and  primer,  etc.9    To  be  sure, 

6  Ibid.,  92. 

8  Brown,  op.  cit.,  preface,  VII. 

7  The  efforts  of  the  past  century  to  break  away  from  the  Latin  methods  are  reserved  for 
the  following  chapter.  In  the  preceding  section  were  shown  various  supplementary 
devices,  parallel  reading,  dictation,  copy  books,  writing  exercises,  oral  work,  dating  back 
to  Brinsley,  Ascham,  Hoole,  and  Colet.  In  both  the  Latin  instruction  and  the  first 
vernacular  instruction  these  devices  were  strictly  subordinated  to  the  great  triumvirate  of 
methods — memorization,  parsing,  and  false  syntax.  They  remained  strictly  subordinate 
and  incidental  until  about  1850.  But  during  the  century  preceding  *850  the  use  of 
"  petty  books  "  gradually  evolved  into  the  study  of  English  literature  ;  dictation,  the  use 
of  copy  books,  and  writing  exercises  by  a  similar  process  of  evolution  became  composition 
as  we  now  know  it,  and  the  simple  oral  exercises  of  the  earlier  day  became  oral  composi- 
tion of  the  present.  The  practice  of  orations  and  disputations  in  Latin,  common  in  both 
grammar  schools  and  colleges  before  English  entered  the  curriculum,  was  very  influential 
in  bringing  these  exercises  into  English  schools. 

The  process  of  evolution  was  but  partially  completed  by  1850,  because  literature,  com- 
position, and  oral  work  were  all  subordinate  to  grammar.  Beginning  about  1850  evolu- 
tion has  made  these  branches  of  the  vernacular  more  robust.  The  best  school  practice  of 
to-day  makes  grammatical  study  strictly  subordinate  to  them.  The  point  is  that  since 
1850  this  complete  reversal  between  grammar,  on  the  one  hand,  and  vernacular  branches, 
on  the  other,  has  taken  place. 

This  statement,  anticipating  discussion  not  covered  by  this  thesis,  has  been  made  here 
in  order  to  place  the  extremely  Latinized  methods  of  the  Latin  and  rote  periods  in  sharp 
contrast  with  the  best  methods  of  to-day. 

•Lily,  op.   cit.,  2. 

•  Brinsley,  op.  cit.,  15  et  seq. 


he  is  in  this  instance  speaking  of  learning  to  read ;  but  it  makes  the 
inference  all  the  more  inevitable.  In  all  studies  the  method  was 
from  the  part  to  the  whole,  each  part  to  be  mastered  perfectly  in 
order.  The  pupil  reads  over  and  over  the  small  part  of  the  text 
assigned,  forward  and  backward,  until  mechanically  perfect.10 

In  the  beginning  of  the  eighteenth  century  Brightland  and  Green- 
wood (1706  and  1712)  urge  for  English  grammar  exactly  the  same 
procedure.11  The  former  describes  his  method.  "  We  begin  with 
what  is  first  to  be  learnt,  that  what  follows  may  be  understood ;  and 
proceed  thus  step  by  step,  till  we  come  to  the  last  and  most  difficult, 
and  which  depends  on  all  that  goes  before  it."  12 

Greenwood  also  indicates  the  mastery  of  part  by  part : 

And  every  Body  must  readily  grant  that  the  Way  to  come  to  a  true  and  clear 
Knowledge  of  any  Art,  is  to  explain  Things  unknown,  by  Things  that  are 

In  the  middle  of  the  century,  also,  the  author  of  the  British  Gram- 
mar explains  the  steps  of  a  recitation : 

Spell  every  word  of  the  lesson,  by  syllables;  give  the  signification  of  each 
word;  state  the  part  of  speech,  with  reasons,  etc.14  After  the  Scholars  know 
their  Letters  ground  them  well  in  their  Monosyllables  with  the  soft  and  hard 
Sounds  of  C  and  G.  This  they  will  soon  learn  from  Word  of  Mouth,  by  frequent 
Repetition.  .  .  ,15 

Sewell,  toward  the  end  of  the  century,  assigns  "  small  portions  to 
be  got  by  heart,"  16  and  Brown,  1823,  still  continues  the  practice.  "  In 
etymology  and  syntax,  he  should  be  alternately  exercised  in  learning 
small  portions  of  his  book  and  then  applying  them  in  parsing,  till  the 
whole  is  rendered  familiar."  17 

The  evidence  thus  presented  is  in  strict  accord  with  the  textbook 
matter  of  all  grammars.  So  long  as  orthography,  etymology,  syntax, 
and  prosody  were  considered  the  four  divisions  of  grammar,  so  long 
as  it  was  thought  of  as  an  art,  a  whole  to  be  built  up  "  mosaic-like  out 
of  paradigms  and  syntax  rules  "; 18  so  long  as  schoolmasters  in  gen- 
eral remained  woefully  ignorant  and  were  competent  only  "  to  hear  " 
recitations,  verbatim,  about  matters  they  little  understood,19  just  so 
long  this  procedure,  tedious  and  slow,  from  part  to  part,  was  fastened 

*>rbid.,    19. 

11  This  is  in  exact  accord  with  the  educational  theory  of  Herbart :  "  In  the  case  of  all 
essential  elementary  information — knowledge  of  grammar,  arithmetic,  and  geometry — it 
will  be  found  expedient  to  begin  with  the  simplest  elements  long  before  any  practical 
application  is  made.  '     Herbart,  Outlines.  129. 

12  Brightland,  preface,  7th  page  (pages  unnumbered  in  text). 

13  Greenwood,   preface,  2. 
"British,  preface,  XIV. 
18  Fisher,   preface,    IX. 

16  Sewell,  preface,   VI. 

17  Brown,  preface,  VI. 

18  W.  D.  Widgery,  quoted  by  Watson,  Gram.  Sch.,  285. 

19  See  Resolutions  of  Germantown  School  Committee,  Chap.  II,  p.  28. 


upon  the  schools.  The  evidence  presented  shows  little  or  no  progress 
from  Lily  (1510)  to  Brown  (1823). 


Of  course,  this  fundamental  principle — mastering  each  part  in 
order — could  give  but  one  meaning  for  the  term  mastering;  it  was 
slavish  memorizing,  nothing  more  nor  less. 

Colet  and  Brinsley  insist  that  rules  are  to  be  learned  and  repeatedly 
rehearsed  until  pupils  can  "  say  them  without  book."  This,  says 
Brinsley,  is  one  of  the  chief  points  aimed  at. 

To  teach  scholars  to  say  without  book  all  the  usual  necessary  rules;  to 
construe  the  Grammar  rules;  to  give  the  meaning,  use,  and  order  of  the  rules; 
to  shew  the  examples,  and  to  apply  them;  which  being  well  performed,  will 
make  all  other  learning  easie  and  pleasant.20 

He  insists  that  the  master  is  to  have  some  exercise  of  the  memory 
daily  21  and  that — 

in  hearing  parts,  aske  them  first  the  chiefe  question  or  questions  of  each  rule  in 
order ;  then  make  them  every  one  say  his  rule  or  rules,  and  in  all  rules  of  con- 
struction, to  answere  you  in  what  words  the  force  of  the  example  lyeth,  both 
governour  and  governed.22 

Moreover,  both  Philoponus  and  Spoudeus  agree  that  this  perfect 
memorizing  is  the  principal  method  of  procedure.  Spondeus :  "  Oh, 
but  this  is  a  matter,  that  is  most  accounted  of  with  us ;  to  have  them 
very  perfect  in  saying  all  their  Grammar  without  booke,  even  every 
rule."  Philoponus :  "  To  this  I  answere  you ;  that  this  indeede  is 
one  principall  thing." 23  This  is  to  be  accomplished  as  follows. 
Spoudeus :  "  I  have  onely  used  to  cause  my  Schollers  to  learne  it  with- 
out booke,  and  a  little  to  construe  it  ...  by  oft  saying  Parts."  24 

Greenwood,  though  advanced  somewhat,  indicates  also  the  memo- 
rizing method.  He  has  a  device  which  avoids  the  necessity  of  learning 
every  word  of  the  text.  Passages  most  necessary  to  be  learned  at  the 
first  going  over  are  marked  by  an  asterisk  or  star  (*).  "By  what  is 
to  be  learned,  and  what  passed  by,  the  discretion  of  the  teacher  will 
better  determine."  25 

That  the  year  1750  had  shown  little  progress  is  indicated  by  Dil- 
worth,  who,  speaking  of  learning  to  spell,  holds  against  spelling  by 
ear.  "  There  can  be  no  true  Method  of  Spelling  without  Rule."  2e 
The  British  Grammar  advises  that  "  it  will  redound  to  a  Scholar's 
Advantage  to  begin  the  Repetition  of  the  Grammar  as  soon  as  he  can 
read  it."  27    Lowth,  too,  agrees  as  to  learning  grammar. 

80  Brinsley,  op.  cit.,   74.  *  Ibid.,  70. 

81  Ibid.,  51.  25  Greenwood,   preface,   5. 
22  Ibid.,  69.                                                                2«Dilworth,  preface,  VIII. 
88  Ibid.,    85.                                                               "British,  preface,  III. 

60258°— 22 8 


The  principal  design  of  a  Grammar  of  any  Language  is  to  teach  us  to  express 
ourselves  with  propriety  in  that  Language.  The  plain  way  of  doing  this  is  to 
lay  down  rules,  and  to  illustrate  them  by  examples.28 

And  Brown,  in  1823,  again  shows  the  close  adherence  to  the  method 
of  centuries  before: 

The  only  successful  method  of  teaching  grammar  is,  to  cause  the  principal 
definitions  and  rules  to  be  committed  thoroughly  to  memory,  that  they  may  ever 
afterwards  be  readily  applied.29 

In  1767  Buchanan,  in  his  "  Kegular  English  Syntax,"  says: 

Let  them  first  spell  this  exercise  (some  good  English  classic)  off  by  giving 
the  rules  of  spelling ;  next  the  various  significations  of  the  word ;  let  them  give 
account  of  the  parts  of  speech  one  by  one,  applying  the  rule  of  syntax.30 

A  commentator  on  the  methods  of  studying  grammar  in  1810  thus 
describes  a  schoolroom  scene: 

We  learned  the  first  six  lines  (Young  Ladies'  Accidence)  which  contained  the 
names  of  the  ten  "  sorts  of  words  "  and  recited  them  at  least  20  times  to  our 
neighbors;  but,  when  called  to  the  master's  desk  to  recite  them,  our  minds 
became  a  perfect  blank.  We  stood  mute  and  trembling  .  .  .  and  were  con- 
demned to  stand  on  a  box  with  our  face  to  the  wall,  till  we  could  recite  the 
lesson.    Of  course,  we  hated  English  grammar  from  that  day  forward.31 

The  famous  Asa  Rand  comments  on  methods  of  his  boyhood  about 

In  the  period  of  my  boyhood  we  had  strange  notions  of  the  science  of  gram- 
mar. We  did  not  dream  of  anything  practical  or  applicable  to  the  languge  we 
were  using  every  day  till  we  had  "  been  through  "  the  grammar  several  times 
and  parsed  several  months.  Why?  Because  we  were  presented  at  once  with  a 
complete  set  of  definitions  and  rules  which  might  perplex  a  Murray  or  Webster 
without  any  development  of  principles,  any  illustrations  we  could  understand, 
any  application  of  the  words  to  objects  which  they  represent.  We  supposed 
that  the  dogmas  of  our  "  gram  books  "  were  the  inventions  of  learned  men, 
curious  contrivances  to  carry  the  words  of  a  sentence  through  a  certain  opera- 
tion which  we  called  parsing,  rather  for  the  gratification  of  curiosity  than  for 
any  practical  benefit.  The  rule  in  grammar  would  parse  the  word,  ...  as  the 
rule  in  arithmetic  would  "  do  the  sum  "  and  "  give  the  answer."  And  with  such 
exploits  we  were  satisfied.  Great  was  our  admiration  for  the  inventive  power 
of  those  great  men,  vwho  had  been  the  lights  of  the  grammatical  world.32 

Also  one  more  witness  as  to  the  practice  of  memory  work,  after  the 
Lancastrian  system  was  in  vogue : 

In  those  days  we  studied  grammar  by  committing  a  portion  of  a  small  book 
(Accidence)  to  memory  and  reciting  it  to  the  teacher.  If  he  was  engaged,  the 
lesson  was  recited  to  one  of  the  highest  class.  .  .  .  The  rule  was  that  the  whole 
book  should  be  recited  literally,  three  times,  before  the  pupils  were  allowed  to 
apply  a  word  of  it  in  parsing  sentences,  and  as  no  explanation  was  ever  made  of 

28  Lowth,  preface,  X. 

29  Brown,   VI. 

80  Quoted  in  Ed.  Rev.,   XII,   491. 

31  C.   S.  J.   (1850),  74. 

83  See  Am,  Ann.  of  Ed,  and  Ins.  (1833),  162, 


any  principle  the  pupil  was  as  well  qualified  as  the  teacher  to  hear  the  words 

William  Ward,  a  schoolmaster  of  30  years'  standing,  author  of  "A 
Practical  Grammar,"  gives  a  minute  description  of  the  method  used 
in  his  school  about  1780,  the  public  grammar  school  at  Beverley,  in 
the  county  of  York,  England : 

Our  Way  of  using  the  Book  is  this:  if  a  child  has  not  learned  any  Thing  of 
the  Latin  Declensions  and  Conjugations,  we  make  him  get  the  English  Forms 
by  heart ;  if  otherwise,  we  make  him  read  the  English  Forms  several  times  over, 
till  he  remembers  them  in  a  good  measure;  then  we  hear  him  read  the  Descrip- 
tions of  the  several  parts  of  speech;  and  after  he  has  done  so,  and  has  some 
notion  of  the  Meaning  of  each,  we  oblige  him  for  some  weeks  to  read  three  or 
four  Sentences  twice  or  thrice  a  Day,  in  an  easy  English  Book,  and  to  tell  the 
Part  of  Speech  to  which  each  word  belongs.  When  the  Child  is  pretty  ready 
at  distinguishing  the  Parts  of  Speech,  we  make  him  get  by  heart  the  Rules  of 
Concord  in  Verse,  and  teach  him  how  to  apply  them,  by  resolving  the  Sentences 
in  some  English  Book.  When  this  is  done,  we  make  him  write  out  several  of 
the  other  rules,  and  get  them  by  heart,  and  shew  him  how  to  apply  them  like- 
wise, by  parsing,  or  resolving  what  he  reads  by  these  Rules.  And  thus  by 
Degrees,  children  become  Masters  of  all  the  material  Parts  of  the  Book  without 
much  Difficulty." 

The  educational  literature  of  America  concerning  this  period  (1750- 
1823)  is  filled  with  evidence  that  memorizing  methods  predominated 
practice.  Wickersham  quotes  a  master  of  1730  who  said :  "  I  find  no 
way  that  goes  beyond  that  of  repeating,  both  in  spelling,  reading, 
writing,  and  cyphering."  35  A  school  boy  of  1765  records  that  "  at 
six  ....  I  learned  the  English  grammar  in  Dilworth  by  heart."  36  In 
1780  Principal  Pearson,  of  Phillips  Andover,  testifies  that  "  a  class 
of  thirty  repeats  a  page  and  a  half  of  Latin  Grammar ;  then  follows 
the  Accidence  Tribe,  who  repeat  two,  three,  four,  five,  and  ten  pages 
each."  37  A  Princeton  college  youth  of  1799  wrote  his  brother,  "  com- 
mitted to  memory  verbatim  50  pages  of  English  Grammar."  38  Before 
the  Revolution  what  little  grammar  was  taught  in  Boston  was  con- 
fined almost  entirely  to  committing  and  reciting  rules.39 

W.  B.  Fowle,  a  prominent  schoolman  of  Boston,  says  of  the  schools 
of  1795 :  "  Pupils  at  our  school  were  required  to  learn  Bingham's 
Young  Ladies'  Accidence  by  heart  three  times.  .  .  .  We  were  two  or 
three  years  in  grammar."  40  Murray,  author  of  the  grammar  most 
widely  used,  announced  that  in  later  editions  he  had  been  careful  to 
rephrase  his  definitions  smoothly,  that  they  might  be  memorized  and 

83  C.  S.  J.   (1850),  337. 

34  Ward,   English  Grammar,  preface.  X. 

35  Wickersham,  op.  cit.,  214. 

36  C.  S.  J.    (1850),  3. 

3T  Quoted,  Brown,  Mid.  Sch„  262. 

88  Correspondence  quoted  in  full.  Snow,  Col.  Cur.,  116. 
39  Herman  Humphrey,  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  XIII,  127. 
*°C.  S.  J.  (1850),  5. 



retained  more  easily.41  The  minutes  of  the  trustees  of  Oyster  Ba 
Academy,  New  York,  prescribe  the  memorizing  method  as  follows: 
"(1)  The  Monitor,  to  be  read  daily  as  the  last  lesson;  (2)  Webster's 
Grammar,  to  be  read  or  repeated  from  memory;  (3)  The  Testament 
or  Bible,  to  be  read  .  .  ."  42 

The  evidence  seems  to  indicate  that  the  slavish  memorization  of 
rules,  centuries  old  in  schoolroom  practice,  had  made  but  little  prog- 
ress from  the  time  of  Lily  to  Goold  Brown.  It  wTas  carried  with  all  its 
terrors  directly  into  the  study  of  English  grammar.43 


As  complete  memorization  was  the  order  of  the  day  it  is  not  surpris- 
ing to  find  teachers  endeavoring  to  find  devices  to  aid  the  pupils  in 
this  arduous  task.  So  far  we  have  found  records  of  five  distinct 
devices  tending  to  accomplish  this  purpose. 

The  first  is  constant  repetition.  Colet  insists  on  daily  defining 
rules ;  44  Brinsley  strongly  urges  repetitions.45  Teachers  of  the  eight- 
eenth century  continued  the  practice  of  strengthening  memory  by 
constant  repetition.  The  British  Grammar  urges  masters  to  have 
their  pupils  repeat  the  entire  grammar  in  portions  once  a  month,46 
and  Sewell  especially  requires  of  his  pupils  frequent  repetitions  of 

The  second  device  is  rhyming.  We  have  already  referred  to  Brins- 
ley's  plan  of  having  pupils  read  the  rules  in  meter.  Rules  of  polite- 
ness in  verse  were  old  in  Latin  and  were  common  in  English;  for 

41  Murray,  12. 

42  Fitzpatrick,  Ed.  Views  and  Inf.  of  D.  Clinton,  22. 

43  An  interesting  proof  of  memorization  is  found  in  the  copy  of  Alger's  Murray,  used  by 
the  writer,  the  stereotyped  edition  of  1825.  The  book  belonged  to  one  George  A.  Severing  ; 
his  signature  is  dated  Roxbury,  December,  1828.  Evidently  his  teacher  had  not  been  satis- 
fled  with  Murray's  definition  of  grammar  and  had  dictated  the  following  substitute : 
"  Grammar  teaches  the  arrangement  of  words  according  to  the  idiom  or  dialect  of  any 
particular  people,  and  that  excellency  of  pronunciation  which  enables  us  to  speak  and 
write  a  language  agreeable  to  reason  and  correct  usages."  This  is  an  unusually  good 
definition  for  1828  and  indicates  that  this  teacher  was  moving  toward  the  modern  concep- 
tion of  the  science.  But  young  Severins  has  written  this  definition  out  in  full  four  times 
on  the  fly  leaves  and  the  blank  pages  at  the  end  of  the  book,  evidently  making  sure  that 
he  is  letter-perfect. 

Samuel  G.  Goodrich,  telling  of  his  boyhood  school  days  in  Ridgefield,  Conn.,  about  1785, 
says  :  "  The  grammar  was  a  clever  book.  .  .  .  Neither  Master  Stebbins  nor  his  scholars 
ever  fathomed  its  depths.  They  floundered  about  in  it,  as  if  in  a  quagmire,  and  after 
some  time  came  out  of  it  pretty  nearly  as  they  went  in,  though  perhaps  a  little  obfusticated 
by  the  dim  and  dusty  atmosphere  of  those  labyrinths."     Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  XIII,  139. 

44  Lily,  preface,   3. 

45 "  No  evening  is  to  be  passed  without  some  little  exercise  against  the  morning." 
Brinsley,  op.  cit,  164.  "  To  imprint  it  by  repetition  the  next  morning,  together  with  their 
evening  exercises."  Ibid.,  152.  A  fuller  explanation  is  given  by  Brinsley  of  insuring  ease 
in  remembering  rules  :  Make  the  scholars  learn  them  perfectly  ;  give  frequent  repetition  ; 
instill  continual  care  for  parts;  examine  them  daily;  when  parsing,  turn  every  hard  rule 
to  use  ;  in  higher  forms  give  repetition  less  often.  Ibid.,  85.  Brinsley  also  mentions  two 
subdevices.  He  would  have  the  pupils  mark  their  books,  copying  from  the  teacher's  book, 
to  assist  memory  (ibid.,  141)  and  would  have  them  "  read  the  rules  over  in  a  kind  of 
singing  voice  after  the  manner  of  running  of  the  verse."     Ibid.,  73. 

«•  British,   preface,   III.  «  Sewell,    preface,   VIII. 


example,  in  "  The  Schoole  of  Vertue,"  48  Brinsley,  speaking  of  verse, 
says :  "  To  reade  them  over  in  a  kinde  of  singing  voice  after  the  run- 
ning of  the  verse.  .  .  ." 49  Only  two  of  the  grammars  here  inten- 
sively studied  adopt  the  method  of  rhyming  for  rules — Brightland's 
and  Ward's.  The  former  asserts  that  he  has  "  put  all  the  Rules 
into  as  smooth  and  sonorous  Verse  as  the  Nature  of  the  Subject 
wou'cl  bear  ...  to  give  them  the  greater  Light."  He  adds  an  ex- 
planation in  prose  following  the  Jesuit  Alvarus  in  his  Latin  gram- 
mar "  which  is  used  in  all  the  Schools  of  Europe,  except  England." 
Brightland  maintains  that  "  verse  is  more  easily  learnt ;  that  Rhimes 
help,  one  end  recalling  the  other."  These  lessen  the  burden  to  mem- 
ory.50 In  Ward's  Grammar  rules  are^put  in  verses  that  rhyme,  with  a 
repetition  in  prose  of  what  each  rule  contains.  For  the  35  rules  of 
syntax  Ward  has  170  verses. 

The  third  device  to  assist  memory  is  the  use  of  examples.  Brinsley 
goes  so  far  as  to  insist  that  in  recitations  the  example  is  to  be  given 
with  "  his  "  rule.51  He  further  makes  them  give  examples : 
Apply  examples  to  rules;  learn  every  rule  perfectly  as  they  go  forward;  read 
them  over  their  rule  leisurely  and  distinctly;  construe  the  rules  and  apply 
examples  for  them ;  learn  all  the  rules  until  the  pupil  can  "  beate  it  out  of 
himselfe."  ra 

This  is  a  common  practice  in  all  the  more  elaborate  grammars.  Lowth 
especially  makes  point  of  illustrative  examples  accompanying  each 

The  fourth  device  was  selection  of  parts.  The  first  textbook  maker 
who  desired  to  relieve  memory  by  proper  selection  of  parts  to  be 
memorized  was  Greenwood.  In  his  grammar  he  distinguished  the 
more  important  parts  by  printing  them  in  larger  type.  Fisher  did 
not  desire  his  pupils  to  be  troubled  with  learning  the  exceptions  to 
rules.54  Herein  we  find  further  evidence  that  it  had  been  the  prac- 
tice to  require  the  learning  by  heart  of  rules,  examples,  and  exceptions. 
Murray  uses  the  same  device  as  Greenwood,  commenting  on  the  value 
of  selections  as  follows : 

The  more  important  rules,  definitions,  and  observations,  and  which  are  there- 
fore the  most  proper  to  be  committed  to  memory,  are  printed  in  larger  type; 
whilst  rules  and  remarks  that  are  of  less  importance,  that  extend  or  diversify 
the  general  idea,  or  that  serve  as  explanations,  are  contained  in  the  small 

The  fifth  device  is  very  old,  namely,  the  question  and  an  wer.  Haz- 
litt  says  that  he  has  small  volumes  on  cookery  and  gardening  of  the 
Middle  Ages  which  are  thrown  into  the  interlocutory  form,  the  most 
apt  to  impress  names  on  the  minds  of  the  pupils.56    He  also  gives  a 

«Eggleston,  op.  cit.,  214. 
"Brinsley,  op.  cit,  73. 
60  Brightland,  preface,  VI. 
"Brinsley,  op.  cit.,  82. 
"Ibid.,  70-1. 

53  Lowth,   preface,   X. 

54  Fisher,   preface,   X. 
68  Murray,  preface,  1. 

"Hazlitt,  Sch.  Books  and  Sch.  Masters,  28. 



series  of  rules  and  exercises  in  the  form  of  question  and  answer  in 
textbook  of  1509.57  Brinsley  advocates  this  method,  but  has  Philop 
nus  complain  concerning  books  of  this  character — that  he  has  bee 
compelled  to  leave  off  entirely ;  that  none  are  suitable ;  therefore  h 
has  made  one  for  himself  "  having  all  the  Questions  and  Answers 
arising  most  directly  out  of  the  words  of  the  Rules."  58 

Of  the  12  grammars  here  studied  five  retain  the  question-and 
answer  method — Greenwood's,  Dilworth's,  Fisher's,  the  British,  and 
Priestley's.  About  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  century  the  device  seems 
to  have  gone  largely  out  of  vogue.  Priestley  says :  "  I  have  retained 
the  method  of  question  and  answer  .  .  .  because  I  am  still  persuaded 
it  is  both  the  mOst  convenient  f or,  the  master  and  the  most  intelligible 
to  the  scholar."  59  However,  the  question-and-answer  method  never 
had  wide  vogue  in  American  grammatical  textbooks;  none  of  the 
important  grammars  which  followed  Murray  seems  to  have  used  it. 
None  of  the  Murray  texts,  nor  Bingham's,  nor  Brown's,  make  use  of 
it.  About  the  only  signs  of  advance  made  by  American  grammarians 
before  1800  are,  first,  the  discarding  of  the  question  and  answer,  and, 
second,  the  simplification  of  the  elaborate  texts  into  the  form  of 
Bingham's  Young  Ladies'  Accidence,  Alexander's  Grammar,  and 
Webster's  Rudiments. 


Quite  in  line  with  the  devices  enumerated  above  is  the  contention, 
constantly  repeated  by  the  various  text-writers,  that  they  are  simpli- 
fying terms  for  the  ease  of  the  pupils..  Brightland  and  his  follower, 
Fisher,  have,  indeed,  some  right  to  make  this  contention.  They  dis- 
carded the  four  Latin  main  divisions — orthography,  etymology,  syn- 
tax, and  prosody — and  substituted  letters,  words,  and  sentences 
instead.  Moreover,  they  call  nouns,  names;  pronouns,  pronames; 
adjectives,  qualities ;  verbs,  actions.  They  attempt  to  give  definitions 
and  explanations  simply.  Brightland  waxes  quite  indignant.  He 
claims  "  glorious  improvements,"  complains  against  Greenwood  and 
others  for  not  following  him  in  his  previous  edition.60  "  Little  Prog- 
ress they  made  in  a  Discovery  that  had  so  fairly  been  laid  before  them 
by  Dr.  Wallis  and  Ourselves :  For  Custom  has  so  strong  a  Force  on 
the  Mind,  that  it  passes  with  the  bulk  of  Mankind  for  Reason  and 
Sacred  Truth."  61  Murray  insists  that  he  phrases  his  rules  exactly 
and  comprehensively;  also  that  they  may  readily  be  committed  to 
memory  and  easily  retained.62    For  this  purpose  he  has  selected  terms 

"Ibid.,  90. 

68  Brinsley,  op.  cit.,  87. 

69  Priestley,  preface,  VI. 

60  Brightland's  first  edition  was  1706,  Greenwood's  1711. 

61  Brightland,  preface,  I. 
68  Murray,  preface,  4. 


that  are  "  smooth  and  voluble ;  has  proportioned  the  members  of  one 
sentence  to  another;  has  avoided  protracted  periods  and  given 
harmony  to  the  expression  of  the  whole."  63 

Priestley's  argument  for  simplicity  is  convincing : 

I  have  also  been  so  far  from  departing  from  the  simplicity  of  the  plan  of  that 
short  grammar  (his  first  edition)  that  I  have  made  it  in  some  respects,  still 
more  simple;  and  I  think,  on  that  account,  more  suitable  to  the  genius  of  the 
English  language.  I  own  I  am  surprised  to  see  so  much  of  the  distribution,  and 
technical  terms  of  the  Latin  grammar,  retained  in  the  grammar  of  our  tongue; 
where  they  are  exceedingly  awkward,  and  absolutely  superfluous;  being  such 
as  could  not  possibly  have  entered  into  the  head  of  any  man,  who  had  not  been 
previously  acquainted  with  Latin.  Indeed  this  absurdity  has,  in  some  measure, 
gone  out  of  fashion  with  us;  but  still  so  much  of  it  is  retained,  in  all  the 
grammars  I  have  seen,  as  greatly  injures  the  uniformity  of  the  whole;  and  the 
very  same  reason  that  has  induced  several  grammarians  to  go  so  far  as  they 
have  done,  should  have  induced  them  to  have  gone  farther.  A  little  reflection 
may,  I  think,  suffice  to  convince  any  person,  that  we  have  no  more  business  with 
a  future  tense  in  our  language,  than  we  have  for  the  whole  system  of  Latin 
moods  and  tenses;  because  we  have  no  modification  of  our  verbs  to  correspond 
to  it ;  and  if  we  had  never  heard  of  a  future  tense  in  some  other  language,  we 
should  no  more  have  given  a  particular  name  to  the  combination  of  the  verb 
with  the  auxiliary  shall  or  will,  than  to  those  that  are  made  with  the  auxiliaries 
do,  have,  can,  must,  or  any  other. 

It  seems  wrong  to  confound  the  account  of  inflections  either  with  the  gram- 
matical uses  of  the  combinations  of  words,  of  the  order  in  which  they  are 
placed,  or  of  the  words  which  express  relations  and  which  are  equivalent  to 
inflections  in  other  languages.  I  can  not  help  flattering  myself  that  future 
grammarians  will  owe  me  some  obligations  for  introducing  this  uniform 
simplicity,  so  well  suited  to  the  genius  of  our  languages,  into  the  English 

Priestly  bases  his  revolt  against  the  Latin  grammar  upon  another 
argument,  which  was  decidedly  new  in  his  day,  contending  that  the 
"  only  just  standard  of  any  language  "  is  the  custom  and  modes  of 
speaking  it.  He  revolts  against  leaning  too  much  on  analogies  in 
language.     He  says: 

I  think  it  is  evident  that  all  other  grammarians  have  leaned  too  much  to  the 
analogies  of  that  language  (Latin)  contrary  to  our  modes  of  speaking.  ...  It 
must  be  allowed  that  the  custom  of  speaking  is  the  original  and  only  just  stand- 
ard of  any  language.  We  see,  in  all  grammars,  that  this  is  sufficient  to  estab- 
lish a  rule,  even  contrary  to  the  strongest  analogies  of  the  language  with  itself. 
Must  not  custom,  therefore,  be  allowed  to  have  some  weight  in  favor  of  those 
forms  of  speech  to  which  our  best  writers  and  speakers  seem  evidently  prone?  ** 


One  final  method,  frequently  urged  by  good  teachers,  was  the 
setting  of  a  good  example  and  the  careful  explanation  by  the  teacher 
of  doubtful  points.     Colet  urges  that  masters   must  set   a  good 

"  Ibid. 

«*  Priestley,  preface,  VII-IX. 


example.65  Brinsley  has  the  master  read  and  explain  difficult  parts 
of  the  lesson ; 66  has  the  pupils  read  parts  after  the  master  has  read ; 67 
shows  how  the  lecture  method  arose  by  lack  of  books ; 68  and  has  them 
parse  in  imitation  of  the  master.69  Greenwood  gives  as  the  reason 
why  youth  have  found  grammar  "  irksome,  obscure,  and  difficult," 
"  partly  through  the  Want  of  having  every  Thing  explained  and 
cleared  up  to  their  Understanding  as  they  go  along."  70  The  author  of 
the  British  Grammar  explains  what  was  doubtless  the  practice  of  the 
better  masters  about  1750 ;  he  indicates  a  distinct  advance  in  method. 
In  this  respect  the  author  is  shown  as  an  innovator. 

The  Method  I  take,  and  I  find  it  so  far  effectual  to  the  End  proposed,  is,  having 
got  what  I  judged  to  be  the  best  Book  of  Letters,  I  make  several  young  Gentle- 
men stand  up  and  read  a  Letter  gracefully;  after  which  I  read  it  to  them 
myself,  making  observations  on  the  Sentiment  and  the  Style,  and  asking  their 
Opinions  with  Respect  to  both.n 

This  admirable  practice  was  found  only  in  the  better  schoolrooms. 
We  shall  see  the  movement  for  "  oral  explanation  "  as  a  part  of  the 
educational  revival  led  by  Horace  Mann.72 


We  come  now  to  the  other  two  of  the  great  triumvirate  of  methods 
carried  over  from  the  Latin  to  the  English  grammar — parsing  and 
false  syntax.  Brinsley  complains  that  "  there  is  so  much  time  spent 
in  examining  everything  "  (parsing)  ;  nevertheless,  he  insists  that  his 
pupils  parse  as  they  construe. 

Ask  the  child  what  word  he  must  begin  to  parse  (Principal  word).78  ...  In  the 
several  forms  and  Authors  to  construe  truly,  and  in  propriety  of  words  and 
sense,  to  parse  of  themselves  and  to  give  a  right  reason  of  every  word  why  it 
must  be  so,  and  not  otherwise.  .  .  .  Parse  over  every  word;  teach  what  part 
of  speech,  how  to  decline  it.  give  a  true  reason  for  every  word,  why  it  must 
be  so.M 

Brinsley's  elaborate  method  of  procedure  is  as  follows :  The  scholar 
is  to  read  the  sentence  before  he  construes;  mark  all  the  points 
(punctuation)  in  it;  mark  words  beginning  with  great  letters;  under- 
stand the  matter ;  mark  the  vocative  case ;  seek  out  the  principal  verb ; 
give  every  clause  his  right  verb;  supply  wanting  words;  give  every 
word  his  "  proper  signification  ";  join  the  substantive  and  adjective; 
mark  if  the  sentence  have  an  interrogation  point.75 

65  Lily,  op.  cit.,  2.  70  Greenwood,  preface,  II. 

60  Brinsley,  op.  cit.,  74.  71  British,  preface,  XXVIII. 

87  Ibid.,  99.  "  See  Chap.  VI,  p.  146. 

68  Ibid.,  53.  «  Brinsley,  op.  cit,  127. 

69  Ibid.,  41.  "Ibid.,  125. 

76  Ibid.,  95.  This  is  a  careful  examination  of  the  nature  of  the  sentence  which  does  not 
come  into  the  practice  of  American  schools  until  well  down  into  the  nineteenth  century. 
Green's  Analysis  of  1848  did  much  to  throw  the  emphasis  previously  given  to  dry 
formalism  in  grammar  to  the  analysis  of  sentences.     See  Chap.  VII. 


An  example  of  "  praxis  "  or  "  grammatical  resolution,"  the  system 
of  torture  called  parsing,  which  lasted  well  toward  the  end  of  the 
nineteenth  century,  may  be  taken  from  Lindley  Murray's  books: 

The  sentence : 

And  he  came  into  all  the  country  about  Jordan  preaching  the  baptism  of 
repentance  for  the  remission  of  sins.  The  Resolution :  And,  a  Conjunction 
Copulative:  he,  a  Pronoun,  third  Person  Singular,  Masculine  Gender,  Nomina- 
tive Case,  standing  for  John:  came,  as  before:  into,  a  Preposition:  all,  an 
Adjective:  the  Country,  a  Substantive:  about,  a  Preposition;  Jordan,  a  Proper 
Name ;  preaching,  the  Present  Participle  of  the  verb  Active  to  preach  joined 
like  an  adjective  to  the  Pronoun  he :  the  baptism,  a  Substantive  in  the  Objective 
Case  following  the  Active  verb  Preaching,  and  governed  by  it,  etc.78 

It  requires  but  a  glance  at  the  contents  of  the  grammars  which 
began  instruction  of  the  subject  in  America  to  see  how  this  formalism 
of  parsing  reigned  supreme.  The  British  Grammar  believes  in  pars- 
ing every  word ; 77  Murray  advertises  a  new  system  of  parsing.78 
Goolcl  Brown  was  perhaps  the  most  ardent  champion  of  parsing  in 
America.    He  explains  the  philosophy  of  the  exercise  in  this : 

[It  is]  neither  wholly  extemporaneous,  nor  wholly  by  rote;  it  has  more  dignity 
than  a  school  boy's  conversation,  and  more  ease  than  a  formal  recitation.  The 
exercise  in  parsing  commences  immediately  after  the  first  lesson  of  etymology, 
and  is  carried  on  progressively  until  it  embraces  all  the  doctrines  that  are 
applicable  to  it.  .  .  .  It  requires  just  enough  of  thought  to  keep  the  mind 
attentive  to  what  tbe  lips  are  uttering;  while  it  advances  by  such  easy  gradua- 
tions and  constant  repetitions  as  to  leave  the  pupil  utterly  without  excuse,  if  he 
does  not  know  what  to  say.79 

Brown  further  insists  that  in  the  entire  range  of  school  exercises, 
while  there  is  none  of  greater  importance  than  parsing,  yet,  perhaps, 
there  is  none  which  is,  in  general,  more  defectively  conducted. 
Brown's  grammars  are  the  culmination  of  the  series  of  parsing  gram- 
mars; in  the  last  chapter  we  have  seen  them  in  use  quite  extensively 
in  the  academies  of  New  York  as  late  as  1870.80  Brown  champions 
parsing  on  one  ground  which  has  an  entirely  modern  ring.  He  wishes 
to  have  the  child  given  something  to  do  as  well  as  something  to  learn.81 

Elaborate  formulas  of  procedure  reduce  all  to  a  system,  so  that  by 
rote  correcting  and  parsing  the  whole  process  may  be  made  easy. 
This  makes  the  exercise  free  from  all  embarrassment,  which  is  con- 
ducive to  proficiency  in  language.    Says  this  master  of  parsing : 

The  pupil  who  can  not  perform  these  exercises  both  accurately  and  fluently 
.  .  .  has  no  right  to  expect  from  anybody  a  patient  hearing.  A  slow  and  falter- 
ing rehearsal  ...  is  as  foreign  from  parsing  or  correcting  as  it  is  from  elegance 
of  diction.  Divide  and  conquer  is  the  rule  here,  as  in  many  cases.  Begin  with 
what  is  simple;  practice  it  until  it  becomes  familiar  and  then  proceed.  No 
cbild  ever  learned  to  speak  by  any  other  process.  Hard  things  become  easy  by 
use,  and  skill  is  gained  little  by  little.82 

»•  Murray,  47.  80  See  Chap.    IV. 

"  British,  preface,  VI.  81  Brown,  preface,  V. 

«  Murray,  preface,  6.  M  Brown,  Gram    of  Gram.,  preface,  V. 

T9  Brown,  preface,  VI. 


This  in  a  nutshell  is  the  philosophy  of  grammar  from  Lily  down  to 
almost  1900.  Grammar  is  the  art  of  speaking  and  writing  the  English 
language ;  the  child  learns  to  speak  by  getting  first  the  elements.  A 
constant  process  of  dividing  wholes  into  parts,  even  to  the  letters  as  a 
starting  point,  is  the  natural  and  logical  method  for  teachers  who  will 
start  their  pupils  rightly.  As  written  and  spoken  language  is  accom- 
plished by  the  putting  together  of  parts,  so  the  taking  of  them  apart 
is  the  initial  step  of  the  learning  process.  Parsing  and  correcting 
involve  this  extremely  analytical  philosophy.  Therefore  they  are 
the  best  methods  of  learning.    Moreover,  parsing  is  looked  upon  as  a — 

critical  exercise  in  the  utterance  as  well  as  of  evidence  of  previous  study.  .  .  . 
It  is  an  exercise  for  all  the  powers  of  the  mind,  except  the  inventive  faculty. 
Perception,  judgment,  reasoning,  memory,  and  method  are  indispensable.  .  .  . 
Nothing  is  to  be  guessed  at,  or  devised,  or  uttered  at  random.83 

Here  we  have  the  second  step  in  the  logical  process  of  the  parsing 
enthusiasts.  The  first  rests  on  the  natural  analytical  process  as  the 
basis  of  learning  the  parts  of  complicated  wholes.  The  second  is  the 
logical  result  of  the  old  faculty  psychology.  The  powers  of  the  mind, 
in  order  to  be  trained  in  the  extremest  sense  of  formal  discipline,  are 
exercised  by  the  analytical  procedure  of  tearing  wholes  into  parts. 
This  applies  to  all  of  the  powers  of  the  mind  except  invention,  which 
is  supposed  to  be  a  constructive,  not  an  analytical,  process.  The 
reduction  of  parsing  to  strict  models  makes  certain  the  elimination  of 
invention  on  the  part  of  the  pupil.  There  is  little  doubt  that  the 
statement  of  Goold  Brown,  cited  above,  is  the  essence  of  the  peda- 
gogical thinking  which  regarded  grammar  as  "  the  disciplinary  study 
par  excellence."  It  is  a  result  in  large  part  of  the  reign  of  faculty 
psychology  and  formal  discipline. 


The  practices  of  the  Latin  and  the  rote  periods  added  another  bane 
to  schoolboy  life,  namely,  the  correction  of  false  syntax.  This 
appears  to  have  been  generally  introduced  about  the  middle  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  the  first  to  use  it  being  Fisher  and  the  author  of 
the  British  Grammar.  These  writers  are  followed  by  all  the  others 
in  our  series,  each  seeming  to  be  more  convinced  of  the  pedagogical 
value  of  the  exercise  than  any  of  his  predecessors.  The  author  of  the 
British  Grammar  asserts  that  his  book  is  "  differently  planned,"  84 
because  it  offers  "  promiscuous  exercises  in  false  syntax,  both  in  verse 
and  in  prose."  85  He  also  urges  the  master  to  deceive  his  pupils  by 
reading  wrongly.86    Fisher  also  urges  the  master  to  "  read  falsely," 8T 

«  Ibid.  86  Ibid.,  XV. 

•*  British,  preface,  I.  87  Fisher,  preface,  XII. 

wibid.,  III. 


to  keep  the  pupils  alert,  and  defends  himself  for  putting  his  exercises 
in  false  syntax  in  a  separate  part  of  his  book  instead  of  scattering 
them  "  promiscuously  "  throughout  the  text.88 

Lowth  believes  in  teaching  "  what  is  right,  by  showing  what  is 
wrong."  He  thinks  there  is  no  English  grammar  which  sufficiently 
performs  this  duty,  though  it  may  prove  "  the  more  useful  and  effec- 
tual method  of  instruction."  89  Two  examples  of  Lowth's  false  syntax 
follow  : 

Rule :  The  article,  a,  can  only  be  joined  to  Substantives  in  the  Singular 
number.  A  good  character  should  not  be  rested  in  as  an  end,  but  employed  as  a 
means  of  doing  still  further  good.  (Atterbury's  Sermons.)  Ought  it  not  be  a 
mean?  I  have  read  an  author  of  this  taste,  that  compares  a  ragged  coin  to  a 
tattered  colours.     (Addison  on  Medals.)  ^ 

The  foregoing  amusing  example  of  extreme  emphasis  put  upon  a 
perfectly  trivial  point  is  especially  ludicrous,  because  Lowth  is  wrong. 
Both  the  sentences  from  Atterbury  and  Addison  are  correct;  in  the 
first,  means  is  a  singular  noun ;  in  the  second  "  colours,"  meaning  flag, 
is  also  singular. 

The  other  example  has  to  do  with  choose,  chose,  chosen : 

Thus  having  chosed  each  other.  .  .  .  (Clarendon.  Hist.,  Vol.  Ill,  p.  797,  8vo.) 

Lowth  complains  that  in  200  years  English  had  made  "  no  advances 
in  grammatical  accuracy."  He  quotes  Swift "  On  the  imperfect  State 
of  our  Language  " — that  "  in  many  cases  it  offended  against  every 
part  of  Grammar."  He  asserts  that  in  his  day  "  Grammar  is  very 
much  neglected,"  and  fills  the  bottom  of  nearly  every  page  with  foot- 
notes of  what  he  terms  proof  a  that  our  best  authors  have  committed 
gross  mistakes  for  want  of  due  knowledge  of  English  Grammar." 
Lowth  assures  us  that  these  examples  "  are  such  as  occurred  in  read- 
ing, without  any  very  curious  or  methodical  examination."  It  is  a 
curious  speculation,  then,  as  to  why  Lowth  advocates  so  vigorously 
the  teaching  "  of  what  is  right  by  showing  what  is  wrong."  It  may 
be  that  he  was  eager  to  make  use  of  the  copious  notes  which  he  had 
doubtless  been  accumulating  in  years  of  reading.92  He  is  impartial  in 
his  selection  of  false  grammar,  citing  Hobbs,  the  Bible,  the  Liturgy, 
Pope,  Shakespeare,  Prior,  Hooker,  Dryden,  and  Addison.93 

88  Ibid.,  x. 

89  Lowth,  preface,  X. 

90  Lowth,  op.  cit.,  19. 

91  Ibid. 

93  Ibid.,  preface,  I-X. 

98 "  You  was  ...  is  an  enormous  Solecism ;  and  yet  authors  of  the  front  rank  have 
inadvertently  fallen  into  it.  '  Knowing  that  you  was  my  old  master's  friend.'  Addison, 
Spectator,  No.  517.  '  Would  to  God  you  was  within  her  reach;'  Lord  Bolingbroke  to 
Swift,  letter  46,  etc."  In  these  footnotes  Lowth's  practice  is  somewhat  of  a  deviation 
from  correcting  false  syntax.    Op.  cit.,  35. 


Priestley  approves  of  Lowth's  methods,  as  follows : 
An  appendix  would  have  been  made  of  examples  of  bad  English;  for  they  are 
really  useful;  but  they  make  so  uncouth  an  appearance  in  print.  And  it  can 
be  no  manner  of  trouble  to  any  teacher  to  supply  the  worst  of  them,  by  a  false 
reading  of  a  good  author,  and  requiring  his  pupils  to  point  out,  and  rectify  his 
mistakes.  .  .  .M  I  think  tbere  will  be  an  advantage  in  my  having  collected 
examples  from  modern  writings,  rather  than  those  from  Swift,  Addison,  and 
others,  who  wrote  about  half  a  century  ago,  in  what  is  called  the  classical 
period  of  our  tongue.  By  this  means  we  see  what  is  the  real  character  and  turn 
of  the  language  at  present ;  and  by  comparing  it  with  the  writings  of  preceding 
authors,  we  may  better  perceive  which  way  it  is  tending,  and  what  extreme  we 
should  most  carefully  guard  against.91 

William  Ward  also  commends  Lowth's  method : 

Very  lately  we  have  been  favored  with  one  (grammar)  by  the  learned  Dr. 
Lowth.  .  .  .  This  Piece  is  excellent  on  account  of  his  notes,  in  which  are  shewn 
the  grammatic  inaccuracies  that  have  escaped  the  pens  of  our  most  distinguished 
Writers.  This  way  of  distinction,  by  showing  what  is  wrong  in  English  in  order 
to  teach  us  to  avoid  it,  is  necessary,  because  the  pupils  will  themselves  offend 
against  every  rule:  there  will  be  plenty  of  opportunity  to  shew  them  what  is 

Again,  we  have  the  testimony  of  that  high  priest  of  parsing  and 
false  syntax,  Goold  Brown :  "  Scarcely  less  useful  ...  is  the  prac- 
tice of  correcting  false  syntax  orally,  by  regular  and  logical  form  of 
argument."  97  Murray  also  believes  in  the  practice,  as  will  be  seen 
from  the  following  quotation : 

From  the  sentiment  generally  admitted,  that  a  proper  selection  of  faulty 
composition  is  more  instructive  to  the  young  grammarian,  than  any  rules  or 
examples  of  propriety  that  can  be  given,  the  compiler  has  been  induced  to  pay 
particular  attention  to  this  part  of  the  subject;  and  though  the  instances  of 
false  grammar,  under  the  rules  of  Syntax  are  numerous,  it  is  hoped  they  will 
not  be  found  too  many,  when  their  variety  and  usefulness  are  considered.98 

The  above  examples  are  to  be  corrected  orally. 

Fisher  thinks  that  he  is  the  first  to  introduce  English  exercises  in 
false  syntax.  He  says  that  the  practice  was  considered  expedient  in 
Latin  and  mentions  two  Latin  texts  of  his  day  which  have  the  device. 
He  says :  "  I  never  observed  this  method  recommended  or  prescribed 
by  others."99  It  will  be  remembered  that  Fisher  antedates  Lowth, 
the  British  Grammar,  and  Priestley.  The  British  Grammar  improves 
on  Fisher,  the  author  of  that  book  thinks,  by  scattering  false  syntax 
throughout  the  text  and  putting  the  errors  in  italics,  not  "  to  distract 
the  learner  too  much."  x 


There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  grammars  which  determined  the 
earliest  instruction  in  the  subject  in  America  put  a  premium  upon  the 

"Priestley,  preface,  XXII.  98  Murray,  preface  3. 

••Ibid.,  XI.  "Ward,  op.  cit,  preface.  IX. 

w  Brown,  preface,  4.  •  Fisher,  preface,  XXI.  *  British,  preface,   IV. 


three  major  methods  of  teaching  we  have  just  been  considering,  viz: 
Memorization  of  rules,  parsing,  and  correcting  false  syntax.  All 
three,  except  possibly  the  last,  are  direct  inheritances  from  the  class- 
rooms of  Latin  grammar,  and  if  we  can  believe  Fisher,  as  cited  above, 
the  latter  was  inherited  also.  We  have  now  to  consider  certain  minor 
methods.  It  must  be  borne  in  mind  that  grammar  included  in  1800 
far  more  than  it  does  to-day.  It  was  instruction  in  the  use  of  the 
mother  tongue,  embracing  many  of  the  purposes  served  to-day  by 
composition,  rhetoric,  writing,  reading,  euphonies,  declamation,  and 
the  rest. 

There  is  constant  evidence  as  to  the  use  of  these  additional  func- 
tions of  grammatical  instruction.  We  may  cite,  for  example,  emphasis 
upon  the  parallel  study  of  reading  from  authors  in  the  mother  tongue. 
This  was  to  be  the  means  of  becoming  familiar  with  good  writers  for 
the  sake  of  observing  good  grammatical  construction,  as  well  as  of 
getting  lessons  in  morality,  honesty,  and  goodness.  Many  of  the 
grammars  have  appendices  with  fables,  prayers,  catechisms,  and  the 
like,  which  were  prescribed  as  a  regular  part  of  the  study  called  gram- 
mar. It  is  by  no  means  improbable  that  in  these  parallel  readings 
we  have  the  origin  of  school  practices  which  have  to-day  eventuated 
in  the  study  of  the  English  classics.  Franklin,  however,  seems  to 
have  had  in  mind  a  larger  purpose  in  his  proposals,  approaching  in 
1750  somewhat  nearer  our  modern  conception;  that  is,  the  English 
classics  for  their  content  as  well  as  for  literary  excellence.2 

Colet  recommends  the  use  of  "  prettie  bookes  "  with  "  lessons  of 
godlinesse  and  honestie."  In  the  edition  of  1627  he  enjoins  teachers 
to  "  be  to  them  your  own  selves  also  speaking  with  them  the  pure 
Latin  very  present,  and  leave  the  rules."  3 

Dilworth  feels  that  this  reading  will  help  make  palatable  what  he 
calls  "  the  pills  of  memorization."  4  The  author  of  the  British  Gram- 
mar gives  his  pupils  a  taste  of  the  poets ; 5  Fisher  has  the  master  or 
one  of  the  scholars  read  to  pupils  from  the  best  authors.6  Ward  uses 
the  Spectator  as  a  suitable  classic  and  selects  from  easy  books 
"  examples  for  resolving,"  7  while  Priestley  collects  examples  from 

2  See  Chap.  ITT,  p.  44. 

8  "  For  reading  of  good  books,  diligent  information  of  taught  masters,  studious  advert- 
ence and  taking  heed  of  learners,  hearing  eloquent  men  speak,  and  finally  busy  imitation 
with  tongue  and  pen,  more  availeth  shortly  to  get  the  true  eloquent  speech,  than  all  the 
traditions,  rules  and  precepts  of  masters."     Lily,  op.  cit.,  3. 

4  "As  Practice,  in  all  Arts  and  Sciences,  is  the  great  Medium  of  Instruction  between 
Master  and  Scholar.  I  would  advise  all  Teachers,  when  they  find  their  Learners  relish  the 
Rules  of  this  Part  (grammar)  to  enjoin  them  at  the  same  time  to  read  the  best  English 
Authors,  as  the  Spectator,  Tatler,  Guardian,  etc.  .  .  .  and  banish  from  their  eyes  such 
Grubstreet  Papers,  idle  Pamphlets,  lewd  Plays,  filthy  Songs,  and  unseemly  Jests  which 
.  .  .  debauch  the  Principles."     Dilworth,  preface,  VIII-IX. 

"British,  preface.  XXII. 

6  Fisher,  preface,  X. 

1  Ward,  preface,  X. 


the  best  authors  and  indicates  that  he,  too,  believes  in  the  device. 
Later  authors  seem  largely  to  have  given  up  recommending  the  prac- 
tice, perhaps  because  formal  grammar  is  to  an  extent  becoming  more 
confined  in  its  scope. 

Four  other  methods,  or  classroom  devices,  appear  quite  frequently : 
Emulation,  preferments,  copying,  and  dictation. 

Brinsley  is  the  champion  of  the  first  of  these.  He  desires  all  to 
have  their  adversaries  and  to  be  so  matched  and  placed  that  all  may 
"  be  done  by  strift."  9  SeAvell  has  his  pupils  certify  inaccuracies  in 
each  other's  expressions,  constantly  correcting  each  other.10  Brown 
passes  the  errors  of  one  pupil  on  to  the  next.11  Here  we  seem  to  find 
indication  of  the  practice  "  going  to  the  head  of  the  line,"  so  often 
described  by  our  fathers.  Fisher  was  an  especially  ardent  advocate 
of  emulation.12 

Similar  in  purpose,  if  not  quite  identical  in  practice,  is  the  elaborate 
system  of  preferments  described  by  Brinsley.  This  has  continued  in 
all  teaching  up  to  the  present  day.  Brinsley  describes  his  plans  for 
encouragement  in  this  wise:  Promotions  to  higher  classes;  giving 
higher  places  to  those  who  do  better;  commending  everything  well 
done;  giving  rewards  to  victors  in  disputation  and  applause  to  the 
victors;  and  comparing  exercises  in  writing  books.13  Copying  might 
have  been  listed  as  a  device  for  aiding  memory.  However,  it  seems 
to  have  been  considered  a  means  of  stimulating  interest,  a  sad  com- 
mentary indeed  upon  the  dry-as-dust  processes  which  it  could  be 
thought  to  relieve.  Typical  advice  is  found  in  Fisher,14  in  Dilworth,15 
and  in  the  British  Grammar,16  urging  masters  to  have  pupils  copy 
exercises  in  both  prose  and  verse  for  their  "  evening  copy." 

Dictation  is  closely  akin  to  copying  and  is  even  more  frequent  in 
the  recommendations  of  the  grammarians.    Brinsley  strongly  recom- 

8  Priestley,  preface,  XXIII. 

9  Brinsley,  op.  cit..  50. 
10Sewell,  preface,  VII,  VIII. 

11  "  When  a  boy  notes  an  impropriety  in  his  schoolmate's  Expression,  he  writes  down  the 
Expression  just  as  it  was  uttered  ;  then  he  adduces  the  Rule  of  Grammar  from  which  the 
Expression  deviates,  and  underneath  he  inserts  the  Expression  corrected.  For  this  Feat, 
he  receives  a  Clap  of  Applause  and  takes  his  Place  Superior  to  the  Boy  whose  Expression 
he  corrected." 

The  teacher  should  "  carefully  superintend  .  .  rehearsals  :  give  the  word  to  the  next, 
when  any  one  errs,  and  order  the  exercise  in  such  a  manner  that  either  his  own  voice,  or 
the  example  of  the  best  scholars,  may  gradually  correct  the  ill  habits  of  the  awkward,  till 
all  learn  to  recite  with  clearness,  understanding  well  what  they  say,  and  make  it 
intelligible  to  others." 

12  "After  they  are  masters  of  letters,  syllables,  and  words  they  will  be  able  to  remember 
Rules.  .  .  .  After  reading  they  are  to  learn  the  stops  and  marks.  .  .  .  Employ  time  in 
writing  Words  down,  whilst  the  Master,  or  one  of  the  Scholars,  reads  a  Paragraph  from 
the  Spectator  .  .  and  let  all  that  are  appointed  to  write,  copy  from  his  Reading,  then 
to  create  an  Emulation,  compare  the  Pieces  and  place  the  Scholars  according  to  the  Defect 
of  their  Performances."     Preface,  IX-X. 

13  Brinsley,  op.  cit.,  280  et  seq. 
u  Fisher,   preface,  X. 

16  Dilworth,  preface,  IX. 
"British,  preface,  IV. 


mended  the  practice.17  Fisher  also  18  would  have  pupils  keep  alpha- 
betical lists  in  pocketbooks,  the  use  of  which  he  constantly  urges.  The 
British  Grammar  is  likewise  in  favor  of  the  device.19  Sewell  has 
pupils  take  dictation  on  their  slates  and  then  the  teacher  corrects  it.20 
Dilworth  also  recommends  the  exercise.21 

There  remains  to  be  noted  the  use  of  copy  books,  writing  exercises, 
and  oral  work.  Brinsley  recommends  "  note  books  of  daily  use  with 
inke,"  and  requires  each  pupil  to  possess  "  a  little  paper  booke  to 
note  all  new  and  hard  words  in."  22  Fisher  gives  extended  directions 
for  the  use  of  copy  books.23 

The  British  Grammar,  elaborating  the  discussion  of  dictation,  gives 
it  the  nature  of  a  writing  exercise.  When  a  master  dictates  he  may 
mix  the  rules,  making  the  exercise  as  promiscuous  as  he  chooses.  Let 
a  tyro  "  first  copy  the  several  Exercises,  and  then  write  them  a  second 
time  from  Dictation,"  then  correct  it  and  copy  it  again.  The  author 
advances  this  as  a  reason  for  making  his  book  so  short.  He  also  com- 
mends the  writing  of  an  anonymous  letter  with  the  purpose  that 
"  One  Exercise  should  be  daily  to  write  a  Page  of  English,  and  after 
that  to  examine  every  word  by  the  Grammar  Rules ;  and  in  every  Sen- 
tence they  have  composed,  to  oblige  them  to  give  an  Account  of  the 
English  Syntax  and  Construction."  24 

Sewell  requires  pupils  to  write  on  their  slates,  and  has  in  the  appen- 
dix a  chapter  for  practice  in  letter  writing.25  Ward  has  the  study  of 
grammar  accompanied  by  the  composition  of  short  letters.26  Brown 
gives  four  chapters  of  exercises  adapted  to  the  four  parts  of  the  sub- 
ject, which  are  to  be  written  out  by  the  learner.  "  The  greatest 
peculiarity  of  the  method  is  that  it  requires  the  pupil  to  speak  or 
write  a  great  deal,  and  the  teacher  very  little."  27 

Fisher's  book  and  the  British  Grammar  are  particularly  emphatic 
in  recommending  oral  work,  the  former  making  pupils  pronounce 

"Brinsley.  op.  cit..  46  and  124. 
18  Fisher,  preface,  Vi. 
"British,  preface,  XIII. 
20  Sewell.  preface,  VII. 
n  Dilworth.  preface.  VI. 

22  Brinsley.  op.  cit.  46  and  124. 

23  "  Let  the  Master  write  down  all  their  mis-spelt  words  right  in  their  Writing-Books, 
to  be  got  by  Heart  before  they  leave  them  and  withal,  make  each  Scholar  write  his  own 
into  an  Alphabetical  Pocket-book  kept  for  that  Purpose."  He  also  recommends  that  the 
master  write  misspelled  words  into  the  pupils'  writing  books.  Perhaps  we  have  in  these 
books  the  germ  of  composition  work  which  first  came  about  1750.     Fisher,  preface,  XI. 

M  British,  IV,  VI,  XIX 

25  <<  ]vjow  an(j  tnen  as  a  o>neral  Exercise,  I  make  my  pupils  write  down  on  their  Slates 
a  select  sentence,  as  I  dictate  to  them  ;  each  one  keeps  his  Performance  close  to  himself. 
On  Examination  those  whose  Performances  appear  correct,  are  ranked  in  a  Superior 
Place,  and  to  prove  that  they  have  written  correctly,  by  Dint  of  Judgment,  and  not  as 
the  Effect  of  Chance,  I  make  them  rectify  the  Error  of  Inferior  Boys,  by  quoting  the 
Rule  of  Grammar,  from  which  each  Error  is  a  Deviation."  Sewell,  preface,  VII.  The 
appendix  for  letter  writing  is  on  page  163  of  Sewell's  Grammar. 

M  Ward,  preface,  X. 

87  Brown,  preface,  VI. 


orally  in  prosody,28  the  latter  requiring  them  to  speak  every  clay  thei; 
unwritten  thoughts.29 


So  far  the  endeavor  has  been  to  show  how  the  methods  of  teaching 
grammar  in  the  Latin  and  rote  periods  were,  with  but  slight  varia- 
tion, the  methods  used  in  instruction  in  Latin  grammar.  This  chap- 
ter may  fittingly  close  with  a  description  of  methods  used  in  two 
prominent  English  grammar  schools  in  New  York  in  1769  and  1773, 
respectively.  Fortunately,  Hugh  Hughes  and  Thomas  Byerley  have 
left  careful  explanation  of  their  methods.  The  description  of  these 
masters  is  also  strong  evidence  that  English  grammar  was  coming  to 
occupy  in  a  few  American  schools  a  position  very  closely  resembling 
that  held  by  Latin  grammar  in  classical  schools,  indeed,  that  identical 
methods  were  employed  in  the  teaching  of  both. 


In  1771  Hughes  modified  his  program,  at  least  he  so  claims,  to  lay 
greater  stress  upon  English.  His  advertisement  of  that  year  reads: 
"  Orthoepy,  or  Just  Pronunciation,  which  the  Pupil  is  taught,  not 
by  Precept  alone;  but  by  Occular  Example  .  .  .  with  proper  Stops, 
Emphasis,  Cadence,  Quantity,  and  a  Delivery,  varied  and  governed 
by  sense."  32 

In  1771  Hughes  had  changed  his  program  into  that  of  a  thorough- 
going English  grammar  school.  On  December  30  he  announces: 
"  The  Subscriber  proposes,  if  encouraged,  to  teach  the  English  Lan- 
guage Grammatically."  It  is  to  be  noted  here  that  the  method  pro- 
posed is  probably  unfamiliar,  or  at  least  not  common,  in  New  York 
and  that  "  if  encouraged  "  indicates  the  dependence  of  private-school 
men  upon  the  desires  of  patrons,  of  which  concerning  his  new  proposal 
he  is  somewhat  in  doubt.    Hughes  thus  describes  his  methods : 

When  the  pupil  can  read  fluently  and  write  a  Legible  Hand  he  shall  be  taught 
the  English  Accidence,88  or  the  Properties  of  the  Parts  of  Speech,  as  divided  and 
explained  by  the  latest  and  most  eminent  English  Grammarians;  that  is  Dr. 
Lowth,  Dr.  Priestley,  and  others. 

After  which  he  will  be  taught  to  parse  disjunctively,  then  modally,  and 
instructed  in  the  Rules  of  English  Syntax :  and,  when  he  is  sufficiently  skilled 
in  them,  to  account  for  the  Construction  of  Sentences  in  General,  he  will  receive 
Lessons  of  False  Spelling  and  Irregular  Concord,  etc.,  taken  from  some  classic 
Authors,  but  rendered  ungrammatical  for  the  Purpose  of  trying  his  Judgment. 
When  he  has  reduced  these  as  near  the  Original  as  his  Knowledge  of  Grammar 
will  permit,  he  will  be  shown  all  such  irregularities  as  may  have  escaped  his 
Notice,  either  in  the  Orthographical  or  Syntactical  Part. 

28  Fisher,  preface,  XI. 
»  British,  preface,  XXVIII. 
32  N.  Y.  G.  and  W.  P.  B.,  Dec.  30,  1771. 

83  It  is  to  be  noted  that  the  study  of  English  grammar  begins  exactly  where  that  of 
Latin  grammar  began. 


These  Lessons  will  also  be  selected  from  different  Authors  in  various  Sub- 
jects; and 'frequently,  from  the  Works  of  those  who  are  the  most  Celebrated, 
for  the  Elegance  of  their  Epistolary  Writings;  as  this  Kind  of  Composition  is 
acknowledged  to  be  as  difficult  as  any,  and  of  greater  Utility.  The  erroneous 
Part  in  every  Lesson  will  likewise  be  modified.  At  one  time  it  will  consist  of 
false  Spelling  alone;  .  .  .  at  another  of  false  Concord  ;  .  .  .  the  next  perhaps  will 
consist  of  both ;  .  .  .  the  fourth  may  not  be  composed  of  either  of  them,  but  may 
contain  some  Inaccuracies  or  Vulgarisms,  etc.;  the  fifth  may  retain  all  the 
foregoing  Inproprieties,  and  the  last,  none  of  them,  of  which  the  pupil  need  not 
be  appraised,  for  Reasons,  that  are  too  evident  to  require  a  Recital.  To  the 
preceeding  exercises  will  succeed  others  on  the  Nature  and  Use  of  Transposi- 
tion ;  .  .  .  the  Elipses  of  all  the  Parts  of  Speech,  as  used  by  the  best  Writers, 
together  with  the  use  of  Synonymous  Terms.  .  .  . 

A  General  Knowledge  of  all  which,  joined  to  Practice,  will  enable  Youth 
to  avoid  the  many  orthographical  Errors,  Barbarisms,  inelegant  Repetitions, 
and  manifest  Solecisms,  which  they  are  otherwise  liable  to  run  into,  and  in 
Time,  which  render  them  Masters  of  an  easy,  Elegant  Style,  by  which  they  will 
become  capable  of  conveying  their  Sentiment's  with  Clearness  and  Precision,  in 
a  concise  and  agreeable  Manner,  as  well  with  Reputation  to  themselves  as 
Delight  to  their  Friends. 

Lastly,  tho'  the  Pointing  of  a  Discourse  requires  Judgment  and  a  more  inti- 
mate Acquaintance  with  the  Syntactical  Order  of  Words  and  Sentences,  than 
the  Generality  of  Youth  can  be  possessed  of,  to  which  may  be  added  the  unset- 
tled State  that  Punctuation  itself  is  really  in ;  so  that  very  few  precise  Rules 
can  be  given,  without  numerous  Exceptions,  which  would  rather  embarass  the 
Pupils  by  continually  searching  of  their  Dictionaries,  in  quest  of  Primitives 
and  their  Derivatives,  as  well  as  the  constituent  Parts  of  Compound  Terms; 
besides  learning  the  Dependence  that  their  Native  Language  has  on  itself;  will 
also  treasure  up  in  their  Memories  a  vast  Stock  of  Words,  from  the  purest 
Writers:  and  what  is  of  infinitely  more  Value,  their  just  Definitions;  as  every 
one  of  this  Class  will  have  Johnson's  Dictionary  in  Octavo.84 


Byerley  is  the  author  of  the  second  grammar  written  by  an  Ameri- 
can and  published  in  this  country,  "A  Plain  and  Easy  Introduction  to 
English  Grammar,"  1773.  In  the  same  year  we  find  him  advertising 
an  English  grammar  school  in  New  York  City,  giving  a  detailed 
record  of  the  methods  of  teaching  used  in  his  various  classes. 

Byerley,  like  Franklin  and  other  American  champions  of  the 
mother  tongue,  had  been  reading  John  Locke.35  In  the  advertisement 
of  his  school,  he  sets  forth  the  necessity  of  giving  up  the  study  of 
Latin  for  the  purpose  of  learning  English  grammar,  quoting  Locke 

■*  Advertisement  In  N.  Y.  G.  and  W.  P.  B.,  Dec.  30,  1771. 

85  Byerley,  after  quoting  Locke  and  Lowth,  continues  :  "  Heretofore  it  was  thought  a 
competent  knowledge  of  the  English  could  not  be  acquired  without  some  previous  acquaint- 
ance with  the  Latin  Tongue  :  which  therefore  became  the  only  Vehicle  of  grammatical 
Instruction.  This  error  arose  from  a  too  partial  Fondness  for  that  Language,  in  which 
formerly  tha  Service  of  the  Church,  the  Translation  of  the  Bible,  and  most  other  Books 
were  printed.  .  .  .  Men,  however,  too  often  sacrifice  their  Understanding?  at  the  shrine 
of  Ancient  Custom.     Thus  the  Practice  of  sending  Youths  to  learn  English  at  a   Latin 

60258°— 22 9 


at  length  on  the  unwisdom  of  compelling  a  lad  to  learn  "  the  Romar 
Language  "  when  he  is  at  the  same  time  designed  for  a  "  trade.'' 3< 
There  can  be  little  doubt  that  the  seeming  practicability  of  English 
grammar  and  of  the  so-called  English  education  in  general — a  conten 
tion  first  advanced  by  Locke — was  the  most  powerful  argument  for  the 

After  thus  setting  forth  his  reasons  Byerley  sketches  his  plan  fo 
"An  English  Grammar  School  which  will  be  opened  the  first  of  nex 
month."  37    This  title,  like  Hughes's,  which  was  called  "An  English 
Grammar  and  General  School,  indicates  that  there  were  attempts  to 
establish  English  schools  on  the  same  order  as  the  secondary  grammar 
schools  heretofore  known  in  the  colonies. 

In  the  lowest  Class  will  be  arranged  the  Children  who  have  been  but  imper- 
fectly taught  to  read ;  with  whom  the  Utmost  Care  shall  be  taken  to  correct  ill 
Habits  in  Reading;  and  to  form  a  just  Pronunciation. 

In  the  next  Class  the  Scholar  shall  be  initiated  in  the  grammatical  Institutes; 
and  these  strongly  fixed  on  the  Mind  by  frequent  Parsing  of  the  most  approved 

The  third  will  introduce  the  scholar  to  an  Acquaintance  with  the  Syntax  and 
Ellipsis;  each  of  which  shall  be  inculcated  in  a  Course  of  reading  such  books 
as  may  engage  the  young  Attention,  and  have  a  moral  Tendency;  as  ^Esop's 
Fables,  The  Moral  Miscellaney,  The  British  Plutarch,  Gay's  Fables,  Beauties  of 
History,  or  Pictures  of  Virtue  and  Vice. 

In  this  Class  the  Scholar  will  be  frequently  exercised  in  the  Declension  of 
irregular  and  defective  Verbs,  and  the  Exercises  of  Parsing  will  be  continued. 

The  fourth  Class  will  be  formed  out  of  those  Scholars  who  being  most  pro- 
ficient in  their  grammatical  Exercises  are  ready  to  be  instructed  in  a  proper  and 
elegant  Mathod  of  reading  Prose. 

The  books  used  in  this  Course,  will  be  chiefly  History  of  the  World,  History  of 
English,  Introduction  to  Polite  Learning,  Seneca's  Morals,  Ancient  History, 
History  of  America,  Derbam's  Physics,  and  Astro-Theology,  Economy  of  Human 

In  the  fifth  Class  the  scholar  will  be  initiated  in  the  Proprieties  and  Beauties 
of  reading  Poetry,  exemplified  in  the  Works  of  Thomson,  Gray,  Pope,  and 

The  Scholars  of  the  fourth  and  fifth  Classes  will  be  occasionally  instructed  in 
the  Art  of  familiar  Letter  writing. 


What  then  may  be  concluded  concerning  the  methods  of  the  years 
1750  to  1823  in  America? 

School  continued,  without  any  inquiries  about  the  Propriety  of  it,  till  Mr.  Locke  ventured 
to  censure  the  conduct  of  a  Father  who  should  waste  his  own  Money  and  his  Son's  Time 
in  Setting  him  to  learn  the  Roman  Language."  ... 

Byerley  was  a  disciple  of  Locke  in  matters  of  discipline  also.  At  the  end  of  his  adver- 
tisement he  gives  "  Rules,"  "  on  the  Model  of  Mr.  Locke,  a  New  Mode  of  Reprehension 
for  Irregularities  and  a  loitering  Study,  will  be  adopted.  The  several  Methods  at  present 
taken  in  most  Schools  .  .  .  are  oftener  attended  with  bad  than  with  good  Consequences. 
It  shall  be  my  care  to  reason  or  shame  them  out  of  their  Faults  by  affectionate  Argu- 
ments with  them  ;  or  in  the  Extremity,  a  public  Disgrace  among  their  Fellows." 

36  The  title  Hughes's  English  Grammar  and  General  School  appears  in  1773  announce- 
ment. N.  Y.  G.  and  W.  M  ,  Nov.  8. 

37  Byerley  advertisement  in  N.  Y.  G.  and  W.  M.,  Aug.  23,  1773. 


1.  The  textbooks  in  most  general  use  were  modeled  strictly  after  the 
Latin,  and  their  authors  advised  methods  of  instruction  which  had 
been  used  in  teaching  Latin  grammar  for  300  years. 

2.  The  common  conception  of  grammar — as  the  art  of  writing  and 
speaking  a  language  with  correctness  and  propriety — was  one  which 
confused  the  nature  of  grammar  with  the  laudable  purpose  of  teach- 
ing it  and  obtained,  with  few  exceptions,  throughout  the  two  periods. 

3.  Instruction  proceeded  without  exception  from  the  wrong  unit — 
the  word.  This  was  the  natural  result  of  the  seemingly  logical  process 
of  beginning  with  the  simplest  elements  and  proceeding  to  the  com- 
plex. In  reading  and  in  grammar,  because  of  this  procedure,  the 
A-B-C  method  was  destined  to  remain  fixed  until  the  revival  led  by 
Horace  Mann.    All  the  grammars  began  with  the  parts  of  speech. 

4.  There  was  but  little  connection  between  the  parrotlike  repetition 
of  rules  and  any  real  understanding  of  them.38 

5.  Eelatively  little  effort  in  writing  or  speaking  was  made  to  apply 
the  rules  of  grammar.  William  B.  Fowle,  the  editor  of  The  Common 
School  Journal,  writing  of  his  own  education  about  1800,  said : 

We  were  educated  at  one  of  the  best  schools  .  .  .  but,  although  we  studied 
English  grammar  seven  years  and  received  a  silver  medal  for  proficiency,  we 
never  wrote  a  sentence  of  English  at  school,  and  never  did  anything  that  had  to 
do  with  writing  or  conversation.89 

The  common  procedure  was  in  theory  from  rules  to  practice;  but 
it  was  practice  involved  in  the  application  of  formidable  exercises  of 
syntax,  etymology,  and  parsing  and  endless  exercises  in  correcting 
false  syntax.  It  is  true  that  in  dictation,  writing  exercises,  and  speak- 
ing we  have  seen,  in  embryonic  form,  the  beginnings  of  our  modern 
composition  and  literature;  but  these  were  strictly  subordinated  to 
the  all-powerful  trilogy  of  methods — memorization,  parsing,  and 
false  syntax. 

In  short,  from  the  viewpoint  of  the  best  modern  practice,  before 
1823,  English  grammar  was  badly  taught  in  every  respect.  The 
nature  of  the  textbooks  themselves  is  enough  to  warrant  that  conclu- 
sion ;  but  when  the  evidence  is  added  of  the  wretched  incompetence 
of  teachers  40  and  the  corroborating  testimony  of  every  man  who  was 
a  student  of  grammar  during  that  period  assurance  is  rendered 
doubly  sure.  In  almost  the  same  terms  Brinsley  uses  for  his  own 
school  in  1620  he  might  have  described  the  practices  of  Hughes's  and 
Byerley's  schools  a  century  and  a  half  later. 

«•  An  observer,  speaking  of  1820,  says :  "  Grammar  has  been  extensively  Introduced. 
.  .  .  Children  are  required  to  commit  the  grammar  to  memory.  This  was  the  study  of 
grammar.  ...  It  may  be  said  .  .  .  that  scarcely  anyone  understood  anything  he  passed 

89  Editorial,  C.  S.  J.  (1849),  258.  Fowle  was  the  editor  of  two  rather  obscure  grammars 
in  the  period  which  turned  the  study  toward  the  science  of  sentences  and  the  practice  of 

40  See  Chap.  IV,  pp.  92  et  seq. 

Chapter  VI. 

In  the  preceding  chapter  we  have  seen  the  methods  used  in  teaching 
Latin  grammar  transferred  with  slavish  imitation  to  English.  In 
brief,  grammar  was  looked  upon  as  the  art  of  speaking  and  writing 
correctly.  This  art  was  to  be  acquired  by  learning  page  after  page  of 
rules  by  rote,41  of  which  no  application  whatever  was  made  by  the 
pupils.42  Memorizing  came  to  be  supplemented  by  parsing  according 
to  strict  Latin  methods 43  and  by  correcting  endless  examples  of 
false  syntax.44  Moreover,  the  question-and-answer  method,  putting 
a  premium  on  verbatim  recitation  of  memorized  parts,  prevalent 
before  1800,  had  not  entirely  disappeared  in  1830. 45  Grammar  was 
begun  by  very  young  children  and  was  accompanied  by  no  oral  dis- 
cussion and  by  no  composition.  Teachers  were  very  deficient.46  The 
result  of  these  methods  was  little  more  than  a  mystification  of  the 
pupils,  with  no  appreciable  improvement  in  grammatical  accuracy.47 
In  short,  the  early  instruction  in  grammar  in  America  up  to  the  end 
of  the  first  quarter  of  the  nineteenth  century  proceeded  on  the  wrong 
basis — that  of  inflections;  it  began  with  the  wrong  unit — the  word, 
and  it  followed  entirely  erroneous  methods  of  study  in  proceeding 
from  theory  and  rules  to  practice  instead  of  reversing  the  process.48 

41  J.  T.  Buckingham,  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  13,  132  ;  Noah  Webster,  ibid.,  26,  196  ;  W.  K.  Oliver, 
ibid.,   213. 

"Wallis,  Com.  Sch.  J.   (1850),  5. 

48  As  indicating  the  Latin  extreme,  Murray's  Grammar  makes  possible  60  forms  in  the 
pluperfect  tense  of  the  subjunctive  mood. 

44  This  seems  to  have  been  introduced  by  Lowth's  Grammar  in  1758. 

45  Wallis,  op.  cit.,  85  ;  Wickersham,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  Pa.,  206 ;  Am.  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins. 
(1832),  268. 

46  See  Chap.  IV,  p.  92. 

4TRept.  Committee  Common  Schools,  Conn.,  Am.  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.  (1832),  247. 

Horace  Mann  said  in  1827  :  "  It  is  not  a  perfect  knowledge  of  a  treatise  on  grammar 
or  a  surprising  fluency  in  parsing  that  will  serve  to  produce  .  .  .  correctness  in  expres- 
sion."   Am.  An.  of  Ed.   (1827),  681-2. 

48  W.  C.  Woodbridge,  a  prominent  schoolman  of  Boston,  says  :  "  Nothing  is  more  com- 
mon than  for  children  to  recite  it  (the  grammar),  in  course,  two  or  three  times.  In 
many  of  our  schools,  a  portion  of  the  day,  through  the  greater  part  of  one  winter  term 
of  three  or  four  months,  is  devoted  to  committing  to  memory  the  rules  and  definitions  of 
etymology."  He  makes  the  following  amusing  calculation  :  "  The  average  time  spent  in 
committing  grammar,  as  it  is  called,  to  memory,  is  at  least  one  month  to  each  pupil  con 
cerned ;  and  this  time  is  entirely  lost.  New  England  contains  1,954,562  inhabitants 
about  one-fourth  of  whom  are  between  4  and  16  years  of  age.  One  scholar  in  ten  .  . 
commences  the  study  of  grammar  every  year.  The  amount  of  time  lost  annually  is  equiva 
lent  to  4,072  years."  Then,  estimating  the  cost  of  schooling  as  $1.50  a  week,  he  adds 
"  The  value  of  the  time  would  thus  be  $317,616.  .  .  .  Let  this  waste  be  continued  every 
year  for  30  years,  and  the  amount  is  nearly  ten  millions  of  dollars."  Am.  J.  and  An.  of 
Ed.  and  Ins.    (1831),  170-1. 


CHANGES   IN    METHOD   BEFORE   1850.  133 

The  ensuing  period  between  1823  and  1847,  called  above  the  parsing 
period,  was  a  time  of  conflict  between  the  traditional  ideals  and 
methods  just  mentioned  and  innovations  fostered  largely  by  the  trend 
toward  inductive  study  which  characterized  some  school  practices  of 
that  day.  During  this  period  four  grammatical  textbooks  dominated 
the  field.  In  1823  Samuel  Kirkham  published  in  New  York  his  "  New 
and  Systematic  Order  of  Parsing  "  and  in  1825  his  "  English  Gram- 
mar in  Familiar  Lectures."  In  the  same  year  and  State  Goold  Brown 
published  his  "  Grammatical  Institutes."  Peter  Bullion's  Grammar 
of  1834  was  the  third.  Roswell  Smith's  two  books — his  grammars  on 
the  inductive  and  on  the  productive  systems,  respectively — had 
appeared  in  1829  and  1831.  Smith  was  a  Massachusetts  author; 
Bullion  lived  in  New  York.  These  four  texts  we  have  seen  were  fairly 
successful  in  outdistancing  all  rivals  by  1830,  almost  entirely  displac- 
ing Murray  and  Webster  49  with  their  imitators. 

At  the  end  of  the  period  upon  which  we  are  entering  William  H. 
Wells,  with  his  "  School  Grammar,"  of  1846,  and  Samuel  S.  Greene, 
with  "  The  Analysis  of  Sentences,"  of  1847,  appeared  upon  the  scene. 
These  men  produced  the  first  of  those  texts  which,  after  the  middle 
of  the  century,  were  to  bring  about  still  another  revolution  in  prin- 
ciples and  school  practice.  They  were  the  culmination  of  the  influ- 
ences which  we  shall  see  at  work  during  the  25  years  preceding  them, 
ushering  in  permanently  the  conception  of  grammar  as  a  science  of 

The  present  chapter  endeavors  to  trace  the  most  important  influ- 
ences which  produced  the  breaking  away  from  the  conception  of 
grammar  as  an  art  and  prepared  the  way  for  the  conception  of  it  as  a 
science,  a  state  finally  attained  by  1850.  It  will  treat  also  the  accom- 
panying changes  in  methods  of  teaching  before  that  date.51  The 
second  quarter  of  the  last  century  was  by  far  the  most  interesting 
and  important  period  in  grammatical  instruction,  surpassed  in  inter- 

Woodbridge  is  writing  of  the  year  1830.  In  a  Virginia  elementary  school  of  1847  the 
rule  in  grammar  was:  "Commit  the  big  print  the  first  time:  on  the  socond  review  the 
big  and  little  print,  verbatim.  So  I  went  through  Smith's  Grammar  on  the  Productive 
System.  (What  it  produced  in  me  Heaven  only  knows.)  Almost  all  lesson-getting  was  by 
heart."     E.  S.  Joynes,  quoted.  Heathwole,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  Va.,  111. 

49  See  Chap.  IV,  p.  86.  Smith's  Grammars  were  used  more  than  all  others  combined  in 
Massachusetts  during  these  decades.  Bullion.  Brown,  Smith,  and  Kirkham  divided  the 
grammatical  field  of  New  York  about  evenly  among  them. 

60  Wells  defines  grammar  as  "  the  science  which  treats  of  the  principles  of  grammar. 
English  grammar  teaches  [not  is]  the  art  of  speaking  and  writing  the  English  Language 
correctly."  Sch.  Gram.,  25.  Greene  says  :  "  English  grammar  teaches  the  principles  of 
the  English  Language."  Analysis,  203.  By  1850  the  conception  of  grammar  as  a  science 
was  firmly  fixed  in  school  practice.  Even  Goold  Brown,  who  in  1823  had  defined  "  English 
Grammar  is  the  Art  of  Speaking  and  writing  the  English  language  correctly"  (Institutes, 
15),  modified  his  definition  to  conform  to  the  newer  conception  in  1851.  Gram,  of 
Gram.,  45. 

31  The  advance  in  methods  after  1850,  beginning  with  Wells  and  Greene,  carried  on 
iater  by  Swinton,  Swett,  and  others,  is  reserved  for  another  study. 


est  only  by  the  movement  on  foot  at  the  present  time,  by  which  gram 
mar  is  being  relegated  to  its  proper  place  as  a  purely  incidental  study 


Samuel  Kirkham's  two  books,  particularly  his  "  Grammar  on  th( 
Productive  System,"  reached  enormous  popularity,  especially  in  New 
York  and  adjoining  States.52  In  several  important  respects  Kirk- 
ham's textbooks  differ  from  Murray's,  which  they  did  so  much  to 
displace.  They  made  a  decided  advance  in  methods  of  teaching. 
First,  Kirkham  illustrates  in  a  series  of  familiar  talks  the  various 
rules  and  definitions  in  an  endeavor  to  bring  them  within  the  com- 
prehension of  the  learners ; 53  second,  he  introduces  an  imposing  new 
system  of  parsing.54  The  chief  innovation  in  his  parsing,  as  differing 
from  Murray  and  Webster,  is  that  Kirkham  introduces  it  very  early 
in  his  study,  immediately  after  his  treatment  of  nouns  and  verbs, 
while  the  older  grammarians  postpone  the  subject  until  the  pupil  had 
mastered  160  pages  (in  Murray)  of  etymology  and  syntax.55  Kirk- 
ham's third  innovation  is  his  use  of  a  series  of  devices  for  recognizing 
the  various  parts  of  speech  and  their  functions  in  a  sentence.56 

These  three  innovations  are  designed  to  accomplish  two  purposes 
which  seem  to  have  been  largely  unrecognized  by  the  grammars  of  the 
preceding  periods,  namely,  the  intelligent  understanding  by  the  pupil 
of  the  parts  he  was  learning  and  immediate  self-activity  on  the  pupil's 
part  in  practicing  the  new  principle  just  as  soon  as  he  has  acquired  it. 
Remembering  now  that  "  stick  close  to  the  book  "  was  the  order  of 
the  day,  it  is  easy  to  infer  what  the  influence  of  Kirkham's  methods 
must  have  been  in  school  practice. 

82  See  Chap.  IV,  p.  84. 

By  1835  the  second  book  is  said  to  have  reached  its  one  hundred  and  seventh  edition  in 
New  York.     Barnard,  Am    J.  of  Ed.,  14,  763. 

The  writer  is  using  a  book  called  "  English  Grammar  by  Lectures,"  Joseph  Hull  (first 
edition,  Boston,  1828),  seventh  edition.  Mayfield,  Ky.,  1833.  In  a  note  the  author  says 
that  Kirkham  stole  his  plan  of  procedure  from  him.  Hull  uses  the  same  order  of  parsing 
as  Kirkham,  namely,  by  transposition.  He  says  :  "  This  order  and  these  rules  have  been 
copied  by  some  writers  on  English  Grammar  and  presented  as  original.  But  a  reference  to 
the  date  of  the  author's  copyright  ...  in  the  forty-sixth  year  of  the  Independence  of 
the  United  States  (1821)  will  prove  it  to  be  a  plagiarism."  Preface,  XIV.  We  do  not 
pretend  to  pass  on  the  merits  of  the  claim.  There  is  evident  truth  that  either  Hull  copied 
Kirkham,  or  vice  versa  ;  the  grammatical  treatment  of  bath  is  on  an  entirely  different  plane 
from  that  of  earlier  writers  we  have  seen.  However,  although  the  case  looks  bad  for 
Kirkham,  it  was  certainly  he.  not  Hull,  who  was  influential  in  spreading  the  new 

53  For  example  :  The  nominative  case  is  the  actor,  or  subject  of  the  verb :  as.  John 
writes.  In  this  example,  which  is  the  verb?  You  know  it  is  the  word  icrites.  because  this 
word  signifies  to  do;  that  is,  it  expresses  action;  therefore  according  to  the  definition,  it 
is  an  active  verb.  And  you  know.  too.  that  the  noun  John  is  the  actor,  therefore  John  is 
in  the  nominative  case  to  the  verb  writes.     Eng.  Gram,  in  Fam.  Lect.,  43. 

54  "  The  Order  Of  Parsing  a  Relative  Pronoun  is — a  pronoun,  and  why? — relative,  and 
why? — gender,  and  why? — Rule. — Case,  and  why? — Rule. — Decline  it."     Ibid.,  113. 

M  It  is  only  fair  to  say  that  editions  of  Murray's  Abridgment  after  1820  also  place 
parsing  immediately  after  each  exercise  but  in  a  much  more  rudimentary  way. 

68  Any  word  that  will  take  the  sense  of  "  the  "  before  it  is  a  noun.  Any  word  which 
will  make  sense  when  preceded  by  "  to  "  is  a  verb,  etc.     Ibid.,  31,  44. 


Kirkham  remarks  concerning  his  innovations:  "All  (earlier  writ- 
ers) overlooked  what  the  author  considers  a  very  important  object, 
namely,  a  systematick  order  of  parsing:  and  nearly  all  have  neglected 
to  develop  and  explain  the  principles  in  such  a  manner  as  to  enable 
the  learner,  without  great  difficulty,  to  comprehend  their  nature  and 
use."  57  He  disclaims  originality  in  subject  matter,  admitting  frankly 
that  he  copied  Murray,  but  claims  great  credit  for  changes  in  presen- 
tation and  in  method.58  We  may  conclude  that  Kirkham's  main 
attack  was  on  purposeless  rote  memorization,  aiming,  as  he  did,  to 
make  the  pupils  understand  what  they  learned,  and  that  while  he 
retained  parsing  and  the  correcting  of  false  syntax  he  made  definite 
attempts  to  compel  practice  to  accompany  learning  step  by  step. 

Smith's  Inductive  and  Productive  Grammars,  1829  and  1831,  were 
produced  frankly  on  the  leading  principles  of  Pestalozzi.  This  prin- 
ciple Smith  states  as  follows : 

The  child  should  be  regarded  not  as  the  mere  recipient  of  the  ideas  of  others, 
but  as  an  agent  capable  of  collecting,  and  originating,  and  producing  most  of 
the  ideas  which  are  necessary  for  its  education,  when  presented  with  the  objects 
of  facts  from  which  they  may  be  derived.  .  .  .  Such  is  the  productive  system, 
by  which  the  powers  of  the  pupil  are  called  into  complete  exercise  by  requiring 
him  to  attempt  a  task  unaided,  and  then  assisting  him  in  his  own  errors.  .  .  . 
They  distinguish  carefully  between  knowledge  and  the  means  of  perceiving 

The  pretentious  idea  of  the  productive  system,  when  worked  out  in 
practice,  is  not  at  all  impressive.  Throughout  the  book  the  produc- 
tive method  amounts  to  putting  in  the  text  explanations  which  the 
teacher  might  have  made  orally.00    The  productive  approach  to  rule 

87  Ibid.,  9. 

88  "  The  systematick  order  laid  down  in  this  work,  if  pursued  by  the  pupil,  compels  him 
to  apply  every  definition  and  every  rule  that  appertains  to  every  word  he  parses  without 
having  a  question  put  to  him  by  the  teacher.  .  .  .  The  author  is  anxious  to  have  the 
absurd  practice  ...  of  causing  learners  to  commit  and  recite  definitions  and  rules  with- 
out any  simultaneous  application  of  them  to  practical  examples  immediately  abolished." 
Ibid.,  11. 

68  Preface,  stereotype  ed.,  Philadelphia,  1838,  5,  6. 

Smith's  Productive  is  really  three  grammars  in  one.  Part  I,  covering  40  pages,  con- 
tains the  parts  of  speech  and  treats  11  rules  of  syntax.  Part  II,  intended  for  the  next 
higher  class,  covers  (pp.  41-96)  exactly  the  same  11  rules,  going  into  much  more  detail, 
with  more  elaborate  parsing,  and  adding  exercises  in  syntax,  together  with  sentences  to 
be  corrected.  It  adds  more  rules,  completing  22  rules  of  syntax.  Part  III  is  entitled 
"  Syntax  "  and  is  really  a  rearrangement  of  Murray's  large  grammar.  Murray's  22  rules 
are  given  in  order,  with  his  treatment  of  each.  Above  each  of  Murray's  rules  Smith 
places  the  number  of  his  rule  which  corresponds,  adding  nine  to  the  list.  This  part  might 
have  been  used  by  a  pupil  in  his  third  year  of  grammar.  The  fact  that  it  included  three 
grammars  in  one  may  have  accounted  for  the  popularity  of  the  book  in  part ;  under  one 
cover  is  material  for  three  consecutive  years  of  gi-ammatical  study,  the  second  and  the 
third  each  being  an  elaboration  of  the  preceding. 

60  I.  Of   the   Noun. 

Q.   What  is   your  name? 

Q.   What  is  the  name  of  the  town  in  whicb  you  live? 

Q.  What  does  the  word  noun  mean? 

Arts.  The  word  noun  means  name. 

Q.  What  then  may  your  name  be  caHed? 


9 — two  negatives  in  the  same  sentence  are  equivalent  to  an  affirm 
tive — runs  in  this  wise : 



Negative  means  denying;  and  affirming,  asserting  or  declaring  positively.  A 
sentence  in  which  something  is  denied  is  a  negative  one,  and  a  sentence  in 
which  something  is  affirmed  ...  is  an  affirmative  one.  .  .  .  The  phrase,  "  I 
have  nothing,''  has  one  negative,  and  means,  "  I  have  not  anything."  Th 
phrase  "  I  have  not  nothing  "...  must  mean  .  .  .  "  I  have  something." 

Then  follows  the  rule.  Smith's  idea  is  good,  but  when  the  objects 
dealt  with  are  words  which  are  mere  symbols  of  meanings,  when  the 
objects  dealt  with  are  grammatical  relationships  and  merely  logical 
concepts,  the  method  for  a  textbook  becomes  extremely  laborious.  It 
is  formal,  stiff,  and  heavy.  However,  his  efforts  at  explanation  and 
self-activity  on  the  part  of  the  pupil  were  pioneer  attempts  in  a  diffi- 
cult field.  At  the  close  of  this  period  much  of  the  laborious  explana- 
tion placed  in  the  books  of  Kirkham  and  Smith  is  left  to  the  teacher 
in  the  form  of  "  Oral  Instruction."  61 

In  quite  another  direction  lies  the  real  merit  of  Smith's  innovations. 
He  has  one  set  of  exercises  running  throughout  his  text,  which  con- 
stitutes a  decided  step  in  advance.  This  is  a  series  entitled  "  Sentences 
to  be  written."  For  example,  "  Will  you  write  one  sentence  discrib- 
ing  the  business  of  an  instructer? 62  One,  the  business  of  a  doctor? 
One,  the  business  of  a  lawyer  ?  One  of  a  surgeon.  .  .  .  One,  of  the 
directors  of  a  bank."  63  This  pioneering  in  the  field  of  sentence  build- 
ing renders  him  worthy  of  a  place  of  high  honor.  Of  course  composi- 
tion was  not  unknown,  but  the  writer  has  seen  no  serious  attempts 
earlier  than  Smith  to  use  it  in  close  association  with  grammatical 
instruction.  This  sentence  building  is  one  of  the  most  promising 
innovations  in  any  textbook  up  to  1831. 

Smith  adds  one  other  feature  worthy  of  mention.  At  the  foot  of 
each  page  he  places  a  set  of  questions  covering  the  principles  developed 
on  the  page.  Presumably  many  a  class  recitation  consisted  in  the 
teacher's  reading  these  questions  and  receiving  corresponding  answers 
by  the  pupils.  This  in  reality  was  a  backward  step.  The  very  neces- 
sity of  framing  a  suitable  question  compels  the  teacher  to  think, 
provided  of  course  the  recitation  consists  of  anything  more  than 
memorizing  work.  Smith  scatters  parsing  and  false  syntax  through- 
out his  books,  as  do  all  the  important  texts  of  the  period  with  which 
the  writer  is  familiar.    All  follow  Kirkham's  example. 

Bullion's  Grammar  of  1843  contains  nothing  new;  his  one  effort 
at  advance  in  method  seems  to  have  been  to  make  parsing  shorter  and 

Arts.  A  noun. 

Q.  What  may  all  names  be  called? 

Ans.  Nouns. 

Q.   Boston  is  the  name  of  a  place  ;  is  Boston  a  noun,  and  if  so,  why? 

Ans.  Boston  is  a  noun  because  it  is  a  name.  etc.     Ibid..  7. 

61  See  p.  146.  «  Ibid.,    105. 

88  His  spelling  is  incorrect. 


simpler.  His  grammar  parses  the  sentence  "  I  lean  upon  the  Lord," 
as  follows :  "  I,  the  first  personal  pronoun,  masculine  or  feminine, 
singular,  the  nominative;  lean,  a  verb,  neuter,  first  person  singular, 
present,  indicative ;  upon,  a  preposition ;  the,  an  article ;  Lord,  a  noun, 
masculine,  singular,  the  objective,  governed  by  upon."  64  In  parsing, 
the  pupil  is  urged  to  state  everything  belonging  to  the  etymology  of 
each  word  "  in  as  few  words  as  possible"  always  "  in  the  same  order  " 
and  "  in  the  same  language" 

Bullion's  idea  of  simplifying  any  part  of  the  process  in  grammar 
was  certain  to  arouse  the  bitter  opposition  of  Goold  Brown,  who  is  at 
once  the  most  scholarly,  the  most  interesting,  and  the  most  exasperat- 
ing grammarian  encountered  in  this  study.  He  is  exasperating 
because  of  his  sarcastic  condemnation  of  the  grammatical  work  of 
every  prominent  writer  with  wThose  books  his  own  came  in  competi- 
tion. Upon  this  simplifying  plan  of  Bullion,  Brown  heaps  the  bit- 
terest scorn,  pointing  out  that  Bullion  omits  (1)  definitions  of  terms 
applied;  (2)  distinction  of  nouns  as  common  and  proper;  (3)  the 
person  of  nouns;  (4)  the  words,  number,  gender,  case;  (5)  the  divi- 
sion of  adjectives  into  classes;  (6)  the  classification  of  words  as 
regular  and  irregular,  redundant  or  defective;  (7)  the  division  of 
verbs  as  active,  passive  neuter;  (8)  the  words,  mode,  and  tense;  (9) 
the  distinction  of  adverbs,  as  to  time,  place,  degree,  and  manner;  (10) 
the  distinctions  of  conjunctions  as  copulative  or  disjunctive;  and  (11) 
the  distinction  of  interjections  as  expressions  of  varying  emotions. 

The  omission  of  these  11  points  in  parsing  was  highly  irritating  to 
Brown,  who  still  remained  in  1851 65  a  worshiper  of  formalism.  To 
Roswell  C.  Smith  and  Pestalozzianism  in  general  Brown  pays  his 
respects  in  no  gentle  terms.  Of  "  The  Grammar  on  the  Productive 
System  "  he  affirms : 

The  book  is  as  destitute  of  taste,  as  of  method :  of  authority,  as  of  originality. 
It  commences  with  the  inductive  process,  and  after  forty  pages  .  .  .  becomes  a 
"  productive  system,"  by  means  of  a  misnamed  "  Recapitulation  "  which  jumbles 
together  the  etymology  and  the  syntax  of  the  language  through  seventy-six 
pages  more.  It  is  then  made  still  more  "productive"  by  the  appropriation  of 
a  like  space  to  a  reprint  of  Murray's  Syntax  and  Exercises,  under  the  inappro- 
priate title,  "  general  observations."  What  there  is  in  Germany  or  Switzerland 
that  bears  any  resemblance  to  this  misnamed  system  of  English  grammar, 
remains  to  be  seen.  .  .  .  The  infidel  Neef,  whose  new  method  of  education  has 
been  tried  in  this  country,  and  with  its  promulgator  forgot,  was  an  accredited 
disciple  of  this  boasted  "  productive  school,"  a  zealous  coadjutor  with  Pestalozzi 
himself,  from  whose  halls  he  emanated  ...  to  teach  the  nature  of  things 
sensible,  and  a  contempt  for  all  the  wisdom  of  books.  And  what  similarity  is 
there  between  his  method  of  teaching  and  that  of  Roswell  C.  Smith,  except  their 
pretense  to  a  common  parentage,  and  that  both  are  worthless?68 

•*  Prin.  of  Eng.  Gram.,  74.  "  Gram,  of  Gram.,  92-3. 

66  The  date  of  his  Grammar  of  Grammars. 


Thus  does  Brown  discredit  Pestalozzianism,  with  its  oral  and  objec- 
tive teaching,  and  vigorously  assail  those  who  began  to  doubt  u  the 
wisdom  of  books."  Thus  does  he  resent  any  effort  to  simplify  or 
render  more  expeditious  the  mastery  of  grammar,  whose  principles 
he  regarded  with  almost  worshipful  reverence.  His  own  influence  on 
school  practices  was  decidedly  conservative ;  he  is  the  last  of  the  old 
guard,  the  champion  of  traditional  methods,  believing  that  a  knowl- 
edge of  "  the  book  itself  will  make  anyone  a  grammarian."  He 
declares : 

The  only  successful  method  of  teaching  grammar  is  to  cause  the  principal 
definitions  and  rules  to  be  committed  thoroughly  to  memory,  that  they  may  ever 
afterward  be  readily  applied.  Oral  instruction  may  smooth  the  way  and 
facilitate  the  labor  of  the  learner;  but  the  notion  of  communicating  a  competent 
knowledge  of  grammar  without  imposing  this  task  is  disproved  by  universal 
experience.  ...  It  is  the  plain  didactic  method  of  definition  and  example,  rule, 
and  praxis;  which  no  man  who  means  to  teach  grammar  well  will  ever  desert. 
.  .  .  The  book  itself  will  make  anyone  a  grammarian  who  will  take  the  trouble 
to  observe  and  practice  what  it  teaches.67 

Thus,  in  an  almost  ludicrous  way  the  champion  of  what  he  calls  the 
u  ancient  positive  method,  which  aims  directly  at  the  inculcation  of 
principles  " 68  is  blind  to  that  fatal  error  of  the  traditionalists  who 
thought  that  the  book  itself  would  make  anyone  a  grammarian.  They 
were  right,  if  the  assumption  upon  which  the  statement  was  made 
were  true.  The  error  of  the  traditionalists  lies  in  this  assumption. 
The  connection  between  knowledge  of  the  book,  especially  mere  verbal 
knowledge  and  skill  in  practice,  is  remote.  That  this  connection  was 
not  made  in  early  American  schools,  was  never  made  in  any  schools, 
and  is  not  generally  made  to-day  is  the  supreme  criticism  of  the 
methods  and  practice  of  teaching  grammar  throughout  its  entire 
course  in  America. 

No  better  summary  of  the  tide  of  protest  that  was  swelling  up 
between  1825  and  1850  against  this  older  conception  can  be  desired 
than  the  following  statement  of  Brown  himself,  made  at  the  close  of 
the  period.  His  monumental  "  Grammar  of  Grammars,"  1851,  was 
written  frankly  to  stem  innovations  in  teaching  the  subject.  Examin- 
ing the  common  argument  that  the  memorizing  of  definitions  and 
rules,  the  knowledge  of  the  arrangements'  and  divisions  of  a  highly 
Latinized  grammar,  has  very  little  function  in  acquiring  skill  in  the 
art  of  language,  Brown  says : 

It  [this  argument]  has  led  some  men  ...  to  doubt  the  expediency  of  the 
whole  method,  under  any  circumstances,  and  either  to  discountenance  the  whole 
matter,  or  to  invent  other  schemes  by  which  they  hoped  to  be  more  successful. 
The  utter  futility  of  the  old  accidence  has  been  inferred  from  it  and  urged  .  .  . 
with  all  the  plausibility  of  a  fair  and  legitimate  deduction.  The  hardships  of 
children,  compelled  to  learn  what  they  did  not  understand,  have  been  bewailed 

«  Institutes,  preface,  VI.  •»  Gram,  of  Gram.,  86. 


in  prefaces  and  reviews,  and  prejudices  .  .  .  have  been  excited  against  that 
method  of  teaching  grammar,  which  after  aft,  will  be  found  .  .  .  the  easiest,  the 
shortest,  and  the  best.  I  mean,  especially,  the  ancient  positive  method,  which 
aims  directly  at  the  inculcation  of  principles.69 

Of  the  four  leading  grammarians  of  the  period,  then,  we  may  say 
that  Brown  was  distinctly  a  traditionalist.  His  contributions  lay  in 
a  more  accurate  presentation  of  the  subject  matter  of  grammar  in 
general.  He  was  the  last  of  the  grammarians  who  would  foist  upon  a 
concordless  tongue  all  the  intricacies  of  inflected  languages  and  insist 
that  a  mere  knowledge  of  abstract  grammatical  principles  is  effective 
in  making  good  writers  and  speakers.  He  looked  upon  grammar  as 
formal  discipline  par  excellence.  Bullion's  contributions  to  new 
methods  were  very  meager.  Kirkham  and  Smith,  forerunners  of 
radical  changes,  attempted  to  employ  principles  of  inductive  teaching. 

From  almost  the  beginning  of  grammatical  instruction  in  America 
there  had  been  sporadic  attempts  to  make  grammar  easy  for  young 
pupils.  No  fewer  than  13  texts  which  were  published  before  1820 
appear  under  the  titles  "  Kudiments,"  "  Grammar  Made  Easy,"  "  Ele- 
ments," "  English  Grammar  Abridged,"  "  Epitome  of  English  Gram- 
mar," and  the  like.  But  this  endeavor  to  make  grammar  easy  is  to 
be  sharply  distinguished  from  the  attempts  of  grammarians  whom 
Brown  refers  to  as  simplifying  grammarians — men  who,  after  1823, 
endeavored  to  present  by  means  of  easily  understood  devices  theoreti- 
cal intricacies  as  found  in  Murray  and  Webster. 

Even  before  the  period  under  consideration  Greenleaf,  in  1819, 
published  "  Grammar  Simplified,  or  Oracular  Analysis  of  the  Eng- 
lish Lnguage."  Other  titles  indicative  of  this  second  line  of  endeavor 
are:  Anonymous,  1820,  "The  Decoy,  An  English  Grammar"; 
McCrady,  1820,  "An  English  Grammar  in  Verse  " ;  Ingersoll,  1821, 
"Conversations  in  English  Grammar";  Hurd,  1827,  "Grammatical 
Chart,  or  Private  Instructor  " ;  Patterson,  182-,  "  Grammar  without  a 
Master  " ;  anonymous,  1830,  "  Pestalozzian  Grammar  " ;  anonymous, 
1830,  "  English  Grammar  with  Cuts  " ;  anonymous,  1832,  "  Interroga- 
tive Grammar,"  and  the  like.  In  short,  after  1820  there  was  manifest 
a  distinct  tendency,  both  among  leading  grammarians  and  humbler 
workers,  to  modify  what  had  hitherto  been  an  occult  and  laborious 
subject,  to  the  end  that  it  might  be  understood  as  well  as  learned 

69  Ibid.,  86. 

70  Goold  Brown  speaks  characteristically  of  this  entire  tendency.  "  The  vain  preten- 
sions of  several  modern  simplifyers,  contrivers  of  machines,  charts,  tables,  diagrams, 
vincula,  pictures,  dialogues,  familiar  lectures,  oracular  analysis,  productive  systems,  tabu- 
lar compendiums,  intellectual  methods,  and  various  new  theories,  for  the  purpose  of 
teaching  grammar,  may  serve  to  deceive  the  ignorant,  to  amuse  the  visionary,  and  to 
excite  the  admiration  of  the  credulous  .  .  .  but  no  contrivance  can  ever  relieve  tlie  pupil 
from  the  necessity  of  committing  them  (rules  and  definitions)  thoroughly  to  memory. 
.  .  .  The  teacher  .  .  .  will  be  cautious  of  renouncing  the  practical  lessons  of  hoary 
experience  for  the  futile  notions  of  a  vain  projector."     Tbid.,  91. 


We  have  been  speaking  above  of  new  tendencies  and  not  of  realiza 
tions  in  schoolroom  practices.  Abundant  evidence  is  present  that 
schools  were  very  slow  in  conforming  to  the  new  methods.  A  few 
examples  of  the  conditions  which  prevailed  between  1823  and  1850 
indicate  that  the  larger  part  of  grammatical  instruction  remained  a 
slavish  verbal  repetition  of  rules  and  a  desperate  struggle  with  com- 
plicated parsing  formulae.  This  is  the  reason  why  it  is  appropriate  to 
call  the  period  "  parsing  period."  Throughout  there  was  devotion  to 
what  a  Boston  school  committee  of  1845  called  more  suggestively  than 
elegantly  "  the  osteology  of  language."  71 


It  is  not  generally  known  that  Warren  Colburn,  known  chiefly  for 
his  work  in  the  field  of  arithmetic,  prepared  also  a  series  of  juvenile 
readers  consisting  chiefly  of  excerpts  from  Maria  Edgeworth's 
stories.72  To  each  of  the  series  Colburn  attached  a  few  of  the  prin- 
ciples of  grammar,  and  as  the  child  completed  his  reading  books  he 
completed  likewise  a  portion  of  grammatical  knowledge  suitable  for 
young  pupils.  Colburn's  principles  of  grammar  took  the  form  of 
instructions  to  teachers;  they  in  turn  imparted  them  to  pupils.  It 
will  be  noted  that  this  is  in  essence  the  inductive  approach,  a  decided 

"Bos.  Sch.  Kept.,  1845,  16. 

1822.  Charlotte  Academy,  North  Carolina  :  "  Some  who  began  to  memorize  Grammar 
since  the  commencement  of  the  session  parsed  blank  verse  with  uncommon  ease  and 
propriety."  Coon,  N.  C,  Sch.  and  Acad.,  1790-1840,  230;  Western  Carolinian,  July  9, 

1827.  A  class  in  Lincolnton  Academy  was  examined  on  "  Memorizing  English  Gram- 
mar." Ibid.,  212.  This  is  but  little  in  advance  of  the  practice  of  Wayne  Academy  in  the 
same  State,  where  (in  1818)  "  the  fifth  class  was  examined  on  English  Grammar  from 
the  verb  '  to  have  '  to  Syntax ;  the  sixth  class  as  far  as  the  Substantive  ;  the  seventh  as 
far  as  the  Article,  and  the  eighth  to  the  verb  '  to  be.'  "  Ibid.,  634,  Raleigh  Register,  Oct. 
9,   1818. 

1828.  Report  of  a  committee  on  common  schools,  Connecticut.  "  Children  may  be 
found  who  have  committed  to  memory  their  Grammar,  their  Geography,  and  the  Intro- 
duction to  the  Spelling  Book  half  a  dozen  times  each  and  yet  no  wiser  for  practical  pur- 
poses than  before.  .  .  .  Grammar  and  Geography  are  committed  to  memory  rather  than 
taught  for  after  years  of  study  ;  .  .  .  the  pupils  often  have  little  or  no  practical  knowl- 
edge of  either,  especially  the  former.  This  is  due  to  the  fact  that  the  books  themselves 
are  not  usually  adapted  to  the  pupils'  capacity,  partly  to  the  ignorance  of  inexperience  of 
the  teacher."     Am.  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.,  1832,  247-8. 

1842.  Fifth  report  of  Horace  Mann.  "  If  the  teacher  is  conversant  with  no  better  way 
than  to  put  a  common  textbook  of  Grammar  into  the  hands  of  beginners  and  to  hear 
lessons  recited  by  them  day  after  day  concerning  definitions  and  rules  while  as  yet  they 
are  totally  Ignorant  of  the  classes  of  words  defined  ...  he  surely  has  no  aptness  to 
teach  grammar.  The  question  is  often  asked,  When  or  at  what  age  children  should  begin 
to  study  grammar?  If  it  is  to  be  studied  in  the  way  described  above,  one  would  almost  be 
tempted  to  reply,  never."     Com.  Sch.  J.,  1842,  337. 

1845.  Boston  school  committee  gave  an  examination  to  find  grade  of  work  done.  "  It 
would  seem  impossible  for  a  scholar  to  parse  a  stanza  of  Childe  Harold  correctly  and  yet 
fail  to  see  the  force  of  the  metaphors,  etc.,  .  .  .  yet  this  is  done  sometimes.  Such  is  the 
power  of  close  attention  to  the  osteology  of  language,  to  the  bones  and  articulations,  in 
forgetfulness  of  the  substance  that  covers,  and  the  spirit  that  animates  them."  Bos.  Sch. 
Rept.,   1845,   16. 

72  These  books  were  First,  Second,  Third,  and  Fourth  Lessons  in  Reading  and  Grammar. 
Boston,   1831,  38,  44. 

CHANGES   IN   METHOD  BEFORE   1850.  141 

improvement  over  Roswell  Smith's  plan  and  in  signal  contrast  to  the 
traditional  procedure.  Colburn's  four  series  of  lessons  in  reading 
and  grammar  were  not  so  widely  used  as  his  arithmetics.  They  did 
not  lend  themselves  to  the  scheme  of  making  grammar  a  separate 
study  and  were  primarily  for  beginners.  However,  the  prestige  of  his 
name  and  success  in  arithmetic  attracted  attention  to  his  grammati- 
cal labors.  His  Pestalozzian  methods,  with  emphasis  on  objective, 
oral,  visual,  explanatory,  and  simplified  instruction,  did  much  to  lay 
the  foundation  for  the  educational  revival  which  sprang  up  along 
inductive  lines  before  1850.73 

Colburn  was  influenced  by  one  man  whose  importance  is  often 
neglected,  his  most  intimate  friend,  James  G.  Carter.74  Of  him 
Barnard  declares  "  to  him  more  than  any  one  person  belongs  the 
credit  of  having  first  arrested  the  attention  of  the  leading  minds  in 
Massachusetts  to  the  necessity  of  immediate  and  thorough  improve- 
ment of  the  public  schools."  75  Carter  was  instrumental  in  inducing 
Colburn  to  adopt  inductive  methods.76  His  advanced  position  in  the 
philosophy  of  teaching  grammar,  as  early  as  1824,  is  remarkable. 
After  setting  forth  the  faulty  practices  of  his  day  he  adds : 

The  system  proceeds  upon  the  supposition  that  the  language  was  invented  and 
formed  by  the  rules  of  grammar.  Nothing  is  more  false.  A  grammar  can  never 
be  written  till  a  good  knowledge  of  the  language  is  attained ;  and  then,  contrary 
to  what  the  pupil  supposes,  the  grammar  is  made  to  suit  the  language.  Now, 
why  neglect  this  natural  method  in  teaching  language  to  young  learners?" 

Again,  "  The  schoolbooks  .  .  .  are  certainly  not  written  on  the 
inductive  method,  and  these  are  our  instructors.  .  .  .  The  essential 
principle,  on  which  they  are  written,  is  the  same  through  all  changes. 
This  is  wrong  and  should  be  corrected."  78  The  significance  of  this 
language  lies  in  the  fact  that  it  was  published  in  1824,  shortly  before 
Roswell  Smith,  Colburn,  and  others  attempted  to  put  into  grammati- 
cal textbooks  the  changes  which  Carter  champions. 

Reference  has  already  been  made  to  the  fact  that  Neef,  a  repre- 
sentative of  Pestalozzi,  who  was  brought  to  America  in  1806  and 

"Barnard,  Ed.  Biog.,  208. 

"  After  Colburn's  death  Carter  wrote  to  Mrs.  Colburn  :  "  No  man  ever  drew  out  my 
heart  as  did  Warren  Colburn.  No  one  has  ever  filled  the  aching  void  of  his  loss." 
Ibid.,   217. 

"Ibid.,   182. 

79  Letters  to  Prescott,  last  three  chapters.  Carter  also  was  instrumental  in  establishing 
the  office  to  which  Mann  was  elected  in  Massachusetts. 

77  In  "  Letters  to  Prescott  "  (pp.  72-4)  Carter  argues  that  facts  are  to  be  learned  first ; 
that  rules  are  merejy  the  verbal  generalization  of  facts.  "  They  are  abstract  principles, 
the  truth  of  which  can  neither  be  perceived,  understood,  nor  believed  till  some  single 
instance  .  .  .  presents  itself  to  the  learner.  .  .  .  The  rule  ...  is  obtained  by  a  patient 
induction  of  particular  instances  and  is  put  in  words,  not  to  teach  us  anything,  but  to  classify 
what  has  already  been  learned.  .  .  .  The  abstract  principles  of  a  language  give  no  more 
adequate  idea  of  the  particulars  from  which  they  have  been  formed  than  the  labels  give 
of  the  nature  and  obligation  of  a  note.  .  .  .  The  facts  of  a  language  .  .  .  are  always 
first  learned.  .  .  .  The  rules  in  the  learner's  memory  are  perfectly  useless  till  he  has 
learned  the  particulars  or  facts  of  the  language." 

"Ibid.,  66. 



established  a  school  in  Philadelphia,  was  naturally  outspoken  in  his 
opposition  to  the  prevailing  methods  of  teaching  grammar.  He 
asserted  that  "  grammar  and  incongruity  are  identical  things,"  and 
attempted  to  reach  correct  use  of  the  vernacular  by  direct  means 
associated  with  object  teaching,  rejecting  practically  all  that  had  bee 
taught  under  the  name  of  grammar.79 

Three  other  men  prominent  in  the  educational  revival,  especially  as 
its  changes  affected  the  teaching  of  grammar,  are  Asa  Rand,  Henry 
Barnard,  and  Horace  Mann.  Eand  was  the  author  of  "  The  Teachers' 
Manual  for  Instructing  in  English  Grammar."  80  Rand  applies  in 
this  pedagogical  manual  the  fundamental  fact  about  grammar,  stated 
so  effectively  by  Carter  above :  "  In  forming  a  system  of  rules  for  a 
written  and  cultivated  language,  its  principles  were  obtained  by  dis- 
covery, not  by  invention."  It  is  significant  that  this  passage  is  from 
a  lecture  on  methods  of  teaching  grammar  and  composition  before  the 
American  Institute  of  Instruction  in  1833.81  The  lessons  published 
by  Rand  are  quite  in  keeping  with  the  methods  of  inductive  approach. 

But  to  Henry  Barnard  and  Horace  Mann  are  to  be  ascribed  the 
influences  which  most  contributed  to  the  reform  that  culminated  in 
the  transfer  of  emphasis  from  the  word  to  the  sentence  as  the  unit  of 
grammatical  study,  in  the  growing  conception  of  grammar  as  a 
science  of  sentences,  not  as  the  art  of  writing  and  speaking.  For  five 
successive  years  (1838-1841)  Barnard,  then  State  superintendent  of 
schools  of  Connecticut,  sent  a  series  of  questions  to  every  teacher  of 
English  grammar  in  the  State.  The  queries  involve  all  the  essential 
features  of  inductive  teaching,  discussed  in  more  detail  in  the  follow- 
ing section.  There  is  no  way  of  estimating  the  influence  of  Barnard's 
constant  emphasis  on  these  new  principles ;  the  effects  on  school  prac- 
tices must  have  been  great.  Representative  queries  sent  out  by 
Barnard  were  as  follows: 

1.  Do  you  make  your  pupils  understand  that  the  rules  of  grammar  are  only 
the  recognized  uses  of  language? 

2.  Do  you  give  elementary  instruction  as  to  the  parts  of  speech  and  rules  of 
construction  in  connection  with  reading  lessons? 

3.  Do  you  accustom  your  pupils  to  construct  sentences  of  their  own,  using 
different  parts  of  speech,  on  the  blackboard? 

4.  Have  you  formed  the  habit  of  correct  speaking,  so  as  to  train,  by  your 
own  example,  your  pupils  to  be  good  practical  grammarians? 

5.  At  what  age  do  your  pupils  commence  this  study?  82 

As  early  as  1827  William  C.  Woodbridge  wrote  in  his  journal : 

It  is  not  a  perfect  knowledge  of  a  treatise  on  grammar  or  a  surprising  fluency 
in   parsing  that  will   be  sure   to  produce  .  .  .  correctness  of  expression.  .  .  . 

79  Monroe,  Pestalozzian  Movement,  47. 

80  Published  in  Boston,  1832.  A  series  of  lessons  in  teaching  grammar  were  the  sub- 
stance of  this  manual.  The  lessons  are  also  printed  in  Am.  J.  and  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins., 
I,    162,    etc. 

"Am.  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.  (1833),  160.  "Barnard,  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  I,  692. 

CHANGES   IN    METHOD  BEFORE   1850.  143 

The  evil  usually  to  be  guarded  against  is  that  of  trusting  too  much  to  the 
didactic  exposition  of  grammar  as  given  wholly  in  school  books,  and  not  using 
sufficient  diligence  to  make  the  whole  subject  intelligible  and  familiar  by  plain 
conversion  and  constant  practical  exercise.  What  is  needed  in  teaching  gram- 
mar is  full  oral  explanation,  to  prepare  the  learner;  .  .  .  next  to  this  is  frequent 
practice  in  writing  (let  the  composition  be  ever  so  humble).83 

Barnard  and  Mann  at  the  head  of  State  school  systems  were  in  posi- 
tions of  advantage  for  pushing  the  reforms  they  advocated.  But  even 
before  Mann's  influence  was  felt  as  a  State  officer  in  Massachusetts 
we  find  here  and  there  a  progressive  school  committee  which  had 
caught  the  new  spirit  in  regard  to  grammar.  Samuel  Shattuck,  of 
the  school  committee  of  Concord,  Mass.,  reported  to  the  town  meeting, 
November  6,  1830,  that— 

Grammar,  taught  according  to  the  usual  system,  is  productive  of  little  practi- 
cal good.  A  mere  knowledge  of  parsing  does  not  give  a  person  the  use  of 
language.  The  inductive  method,  which  commences  with  learning  to  express 
the  most  simple  and  proceeds  to  the  more  complex  ideas,  arriving  at  just  rules 
for  their  construction  at  each  step  of  its  progress,  seems  to  be  the  most  natural 
in  gaining  a  knowledge  of  language.  The  scholar  should  be  required  to  make 
the  application  of  every  rule,  in  ivriting,  not  merely  in  the  examples  laid  down 
in  his  textbook  but  in  describing  other  objects.8* 

This  statement  is  highly  suggestive  of  both  the  method  of  parsing 
prevalent  in  1830  and  the. new  processes  which  we  shall  consider  in 
the  following  section. 

After  Mann  had  aroused  the  State  we  find  very  frequent  statements 
from  the  school  committees  of  the  various  counties  indicating  the 
pressure  that  was  being  brought  to  bear  against  the  "  big  three  "  of 
grammatical  instruction.    Charlestown  committee,  in  1840,  says: 

Young  men  go  from  school  with  skill  in  parsing,  or  analyzing  sentences,  that 
would  make  the  eyes  of  grammarians  glisten  with  delight,  and  yet  .  .  .  prefer 
.  .  .  the  bastinado  rather  than  compose  a  piece  of  reasoning.  .  .  .  Yet  the 
object  of  learning  grammar  is  to  write  and  speak  the  English  language  with 
propriety ;  ...  to  make  the  mind  capable  of  forming  independent  opinions.  .  .  . 
Can  not  something  more  be  done  for  this  than  now  is  done?  w 

With  amusing  errors  in  diction,  the  school  officials  of  Dracot,  in 
the  same  State  and  year,  inveigh  against  formalism  as  follows :  • 

Long  lessons,  correctly  recited  from  memory,  though  they  may  sound  well, 
and  may  be  listened  to  with  much  interest,  do  not  necessarily  imply  knowledge. 
They  may  show  that  a  scholar  has  been  industrious  in  getting  his  lessons.  .  .  . 
Against  this  hollow,  deceptive  practice  .  .  .  your  committee  have  taken  a 
decided  stand;  .  .  .  have  given  teachers  strict  charge  ...  to  go,  not  over  them 
[lessons]  but  into  them ;  not  round  them  but  through  them.  ...  In  doing  this, 
our  object  has  been  to  learn  .  .  .  scholars  to  reason  as  well  as  to  commit  to 

»  Am.  An.  of  Ed.  (1827),  681-2. 

M  Am.  J.  and  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.  (1831),  138. 

ss  Mass.  Sen.  Ret.  (1840),  49. 

86  Ibid.,   55,   6. 






The  chief  features  of  the  inductive  movement  as  they  were  applie 
to  grammar  have  been  suggested  in  the  preceding  sections.  The 
were  three  in  number :  First,  the  attempt  to  make  learners  understand 
thoroughly  every  step  of  their  progress ;  second,  the  use  of  oral  anc 
visual  instruction  as  a  means  of  removing  the  tedium  of  book  learn 
ing;  and,  third,  the  addition  of  the  pupil's  own  activity  in  actually 
applying  principles  as  he  learned  them,  not  only  by  means  of  addi- 
tional exercises  for  parsing  and  correcting  false  syntax  but  also  of 
exercises  in  sentence  building  and  composition.  All  these  were  to  be 
taught  in  close  association  with  grammar. 


The  revolt  against  instruction  meaningless  to  pupils  was  led  by 
Horace  Mann,  whose  guiding  principle  was  the  zealous  advocacy  of 
oral  as  against  exclusive  textbook  instruction,  of  the  word  as  against 
the  traditional  alphabet  method,  of  the  objective,  illustrative,  and 
explanatory  method  of  teaching  as  against  the  abstract  and  subjec- 
tive.87 Mann's  leadership  is  clearly  seen  in  the  thinking  of  school 
committees  of  Massachusetts,  in  the  decade  between  1840  and  1850. 
They  frequently  objected  to  teaching  the  signs  of  thought,  rather 
than  the  thought  itself.88  In  1840  the  committee  of  the  town  of 
Athol  expressed  the  opinion :  u  Confessedly  one  of  the  most  serious 
defects  existing  in  the  system  of  education  ...  is  the  communica- 
tion, to  the  mind  of  the  youth,  of  the  signs  of  thought  more  than  the 
thought  themselves."  89  This  struck  to  the  very  heart  of  the  error  of 
teaching  in  both  reading  and  grammar  up  to  1850.  The  word  was  the 
unit  of  approach,  the  idea  signified  of  secondary  importance.  Favor- 
able comment  upon  the  results  of  normal  training  for  teachers  with 
special  reference  to  making  the  pupils  understand  is  not  uncommon. 
For  example,  in  the  Lancaster  report  of  1840  we  find : 

The  practice  of  calling  the  attention  of  classes  to  the  meaning  of  what  they 
study  is  of  the  greatest  value,  but  it  is  comparatively  new  in  our  schools  and  by 

"Anderson,  Hist,  of  Com.  Sch.  Ed.,  227. 

88  A  letter  from  a  teacher  who  signs  himself  "  Expertus  sum."  giving  an  imaginary  con- 
versation with  a  pupil  in  grammar,  is  indicative  of  numerous  ideas  found  in  educational 
journals  of  the  period. 

"  '  You  say  that  you  read  in  the  English  Reader  ;  do  you  study  grammar?  ' 

"  •  Yes,  sir  ;  I  have  been  through  it  several  times,  but  I  never  parsed  any  yet.' 

"'Whose  system  do  you  study?' 

"  '  Oh,  I  study  my  own  grammar ;  but  it  is  almost  worn  out.  I  shall  have  to  borrow 
then,  for  father  says  he  can't  afford  to  buy  me  any  new  books  this  summer.' 

"  '  I  meant  who  is  the  author  of  the  grammar  which  you  use  ?  ' 

"  'Author?     I  don't  know  what  you  mean.'  "     Am.  J.  and  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.,  I,  476. 

88  Sch.  Ret.  (1840),  87. 

CHANGES   IN    METHOD  BEFORE   1850.  145 

no  means  yet  fully  used.     We  believe  that  if  words  are  good  for  anything  it  is 
for  their  meaning.  .  .  .    Let  memory  be  joined  with  understanding.90 

In  close  association  with  the  agitation  against  the  teaching  of 
meaningless  terms  was  the  growing  demand  that  children  must  under- 
stand the  meaning  of  the  grammatical  principles  they  were  called 
upon  to  acquire.  This  is  in  the  mind  of  the  committee  of  Carver, 
Mass.,  in  1839,  when  they  reported :  "  We  can  not  say  that  there  are 
many  who  get  a  thorough  knowledge  of  grammar  in  our  schools  at 
the  present  day,  but  we  think  that  there  are  many  who  derive  a  con- 
siderable understanding  of  it,"  whereupon  they  contrasted  it  with 
the  grammar  teaching  of  the  committee's  youth.91    Not  so  favorable 

were  the  opinions  of  the  committee  of  Cummington  County : 

Your  committee  wish  to  notice  that  .  .  .  the  method  of  instruction  is  too 
formal  and  mechanical,  and  not  sufficiently  directed  to  the  understanding. 
Teachers  do  not  sufficiently  illustrate  the  subject  in  which  the  scholar  is 
engaged.  The  scholar  commits  to  memory  a  certain  number  of  words,  without 
attaching  them  to  a  single  idea,  whereas  ideas  instead  of  words  ought  to  be 

In  a  similar  manner  the  school  authorities  of  Amesbury  demanded 
in  teachers  "  the  ability  of  communicating  in  an  understanding  and 
profitable  manner  what  they  are  called  upon  to  teach."  93  Those  of 
Essex  suggested  "  the  propriety  of  being  cautious  when  engaging 
teachers,  to  procure,  if  possible,  .  .  .  men  who  have  some  tact  for 
awakening  and  bringing  out  the  powers  of  youth."  94  More  force- 
fully than  elegantly  the  Athol  committee  expressed  much  the  same 

A  teacher  is  not  like  a  jug,  which  holds  back  its  contents  from  necessity,  or 
like  a  cow  which  holds  up  her  milk  from  inclination,  the  nearer  full  they  are; 
he  should  rather  be  like  a  rain  cloud,  which  sends  down  blessings  in  showers, 
and  like  a  fountain  ever  flowing  over.95 

»°Ibid.,    103. 

The  school  committee  of  Weston,  in  1841,  inveighed  against  verbal  instruction  :'•... 
the  understanding  of  the  scholar  is  not  .  .  .  properly  exercised.  A  correct  verbal  recita- 
tion seems  the  principal,  if  not  the  only,  object  to  be  attained  ;  .  .  .  while  the  scholar 
garners  up  a  multitude  of  words,  his  mind  adds  nothing  to  his  stock  of  ideas.  Let  the 
young  be  taught  to  think."     Ibid.,  1841,  69. 

The  Westerfield  committee,  in  the  same  year,  voiced  the  oft-repeated  complaint :  "  The 
efforts  of  too  many  of  our  teachers  have  been  confined  to  impart  to  the  scholars'  memory 
a  series  of  words,  rather  than  to  open  their  understanding  to  the  reception  of  ideas." 
Ibid.,  128. 

91  Ibid.   (1839),  413.  •»  Ibid.,  4. 

MIbid.,  1840,   143. 

The  Springfield  committee  felt  the  same  need  :  "  Let  the  rules  of  grammar  ...  be  not 
only  committed  to  memory,  but  let  their  principles  be  understood,  ...  let  the  subjects 
be  so  incorporated  into  .  .  .  the  thought  .  .  .  that  their  contents  may  be  reproduced  and 
transmitted."  Ibid.,  172.  That  of  Ashby  also  reported  :  "Another  point  noticed  was  the  want 
of  familiar  explanation  ;  .  .  .  some  teachers  seemed  to  be  content  with  receiving  the  answers 
given  in  the  book.  .  .  .  Such  parrot-like  recitations  can  be  anything  but  interesting  to  the 
teacher  or  pupil.  Let  the  teacher,  by  familiar  inquiries  and  explanations,  know  that  the 
subject  ...  is  fully  understood."      Ibid.,  1841,  40. 

"Ibid.,   8.  95Ibid.,    75. 

60258°— 22 10 



A  glimpse  into  one  of  the  progressive  schoolrooms  of  1829  shows  u 
grammar  being  taught  far  in  advance  of  its  time.  William  A.  Alcott, 
afterwards  associated  with  Woodbridge  in  the  editorship  of  the  Ameri- 
can Journal  of  Education  and  the  author  of  many  articles  on  methods 
of  teaching,  as  a  young  man  taught  a  district  school  of  Southington, 
Conn.  Here  he  made  marked  advances  especially  in  the  teaching  of 
etymology.  The  account  of  his  method  of  teaching  pupils  the  mean- 
ing of  a  verb  reminds  one  of  the  actions  often  seen  to-day  in  the  class- 
rooms of  modern-language  teachers  who  pursue  what  is  known  as 
"  the  direct  method."  Without  any  preliminary  information  in 
regard  to  what  he  was  going  to  do,  Alcott  would  ask  the  pupils  to 
take  their  slates  and  pencils.  Then  stamping  the  floor  or  clapping 
his  hands  he  would  require  them  to  write  down  what  they  saw  him  do. 
This  process  he  would  have  repeated  with  the  actions  of  the  pupils  as 
well  as  his  own.  "  Now,"  he  would  say, "  what  have  you  been  doing?  " 
He  would  point  out  that  the  words  they  had  written  described  actions. 
**  These  words  describing  actions  are  verbs.  Now,  what  is  a  verb?  " 
In  this  manner  the  children  were  said  to  acquire  as  much  knowledge 
in  10  lessons  as  in  an  entire  term  under  the  older  methods.96 

The  second  feature  of  the  educational  revival  which  affected  instruc- 
tion in  grammar  was  the  attention  given  to  visual  and  oral  instruction. 
In  1839  the  school  committee  of  Roxbury,  Mass.,  struck  a  note  not 
frequently  heard,  namely,  that  the  force  of  the  teacher's  example  in 
speaking  and  writing  is  the  most  important  agency  of  instruction. 
Their  statement  was  that — 

teachers  should  take  care  not  to  undo  all  their  efforts  to  teach  grammar  by  the 
bad  example  of  using  false  grammar  themselves.  They  should  watch  over 
their  own  .  .  .  modes  of  address,  as  well  as  those  of  the  children,  for  example's 
sake.  .  .  .     It  is  necessary  that  teachers  be  .  .  .  exemplary  in  conversation.  .  .  ,,T 


The  teacher's  example  is  not  a  direct  phase  of  what  is  known  as 
oral  instruction.  The  term  means  rather  that  children  are  taught 
principles  by  word  of  mouth;  that  is,  the  explanatory  talks  which 
Kirkham  had  included  in  his  text  are  to  be  presented  in  simple  expla- 
nations by  the  teachers  themselves.  This  practice  was  so  unfamiliar 
in  some  towns  that  it  attracted  the  notice  of  visiting  committees,  as 
that  of  Newbury,  Mass.,  which  wrote,  in  1839:  "Another  improve- 
ment we  noticed  was  the  method  of  some  teachers  of  communicating 
knowledge  .  .  .  by  familiar  conversation  and  by  questions  on  com- 
mon subjects."98  The  Egermont  committee  of  1843  found  occasion 
to  praise — 

86  Barnard,  Ed.  Biog.,  261 ;  also  Am.  J.  of  Ed.  IV,  641. 

87  Sen.  Ret.    (1839),  365. 

88  Ibid.,  1839,  33. 


the  example  in  the  winter  school  of  district  No.  2,  of  much  oral  instruction 
instead  of  the  common  practice  of  very  rigid  confinement  to  the  lesson  book; 
...  a  good  teacher  can  talk  into  a  child,  in  the  space  of  three  or  four  months, 
an  amount  ...  of  practical  knowledge  .  .  .  which  the  child  could  not  read  into 
himself  in  the  space  of  as  many  years." 

Horace  Mann,  reviewing  Edward's  "  First  Lessons  in  Grammar," 
1843,  asserts: 

If  a  child  is  made  to  feel  that  the  subject  [grammar]  is  hard  to  understand 
and  that  he  is  expected  to  grope  his  way  in  darkness  ...  he  will  be  very  likely 
to  construct  a  prejudice  against  it.  .  .  .  Many  a  teacher  has  felt  that  there 
must  be  a  better  way  of  teaching  grammar.  .  .  .  Edward's  "First  Lessons" 
is  not  the  old  process  of  committing  to  memory  and  repeating.  ...  A  method 
is  given  by  which  a  teacher  explains  whatever  is  difficult  to  the  learner.  .  .  . 
The  book  is  the  substance  of  lessons  in  grammar  given  orally  by  the  author  in 

This  same  note  is  struck  by  an  editorial  by  William  B.  Fowle  in 

Grammar  can  be  taught  by  oral  instruction,  by  correcting  the  ungrammatical 
language  of  the  pupils,  and  by  the  example  of  the  teacher  much  more  easily  and 
more  effectively  than  by  committing  to  memory  and  reciting.  ...  An  accom- 
plished teacher  may  do  more  for  a  class  of  20  in  one  hour,  by  exercises  on  the 
blackboard,  than  he  can  do  in  a  whole  day  for  an  individual  who  studies  and 
parses  from  a  textbook.8 

The  first  24  pages  of  William  H.  Wells's  "  School  Grammar,"  1846, 
are  devoted  to  a  section  on  oral  instruction  in  English  grammar,  pre- 
pared at  the  request  of  Barnard,  at  the  time  commissioner  of  public 
schools  in  Rhode  Island,  and  already  published  as  one  of  Jiis  series  of 
educational  tracts.3  This  section  is  not  a  part  of  the  grammar  itself 
but  is  frankly  given  over  to  explicit  directions  to  teachers  as  to  how 
to  use  the  inductive  methods  and  how  to  use  illustrative  exercises  in 
composition.4  One  hundred  and  fifty  thousand  of  these  textbooks 
were  sold  in  the  first  five  years.     We  have  seen  that  his  books 

"Ibid.    (1843),  188. 

*  Com.  Sch.  J.,  1843,  167-8. 

"After  the  part  of  speech  .  .  .  had  been  defined  by  the  teacher  and  clearly  compre- 
hended by  the  pupils,  they  went  to  their  seat  to  write  examples  in  a  book  kept  for  that 
purpose.  It  was  sometimes  found  that  listening  to  an  explanation  .  .  .  and  conversing 
.  .  .  were  not  sufficient  ...  on  which  account  a  textbook  was  required.  This  construc- 
tive exercise  is  extremely  interesting ;  children  are  pleased  with  doing  something."     Ibid. 

'Com.   Sch.  J.   (1850),  146. 

8  Wells,  Sch.  Gram.,  preface,  IV. 

*A  sample  of  Wells's  advice  concerning  instruction  in  the  parts  of  speech  may  be 
quoted  :  "  The  classification  of  words  may  be  introduced  by  referring  to  the  different  kinds 
of  trees :  to  the  different  kinds  of  animals  ;  or  to  any  other  collection  of  objects  that 
admit  of  a  regular  division  into  distinct  classes.  Thus  when  we  go  into  a  forest,  we  fiDd 
that  the  number  of  trees  about  us  is  greater  than  we  can  estimate.  But  we  soon  observe 
that  a  certain  portion  of  them  have  certain  resemblances,  while  they  differ  essentially 
from  all  the  rest ;  ...  by  extending  our  observation,  we  find  ...  all  trees  .  .  .  belong 
to  a  few  very  simple  classes,  .  .  .  Oak  trees,  .  .  .  Pine  trees.  .  .  .  Just  so  it  is  with  the 
words  of  our  language.  ...  By  some  introductory  illustration  the  curiosity  of  a  class 
of  beginners  may  be  excited.  .  .  The  teacher  should  lead  his  pupils  to  take  an  active 
part  in  these  lessons  from  the  beginning."     Ibid.,  II,  12. 


were  scattered  through  various  States.  Wells  himself  later  became 
superintendent  of  schools  in  Chicago.  It  is  probable  that  his  infli 
ence  more  than  that  of  any  other  man  really  introduced  oral  instruc 
tion  and  explanation  into  classroom  instruction  in  English  grammar 
Visual  instruction  was  also  brought  into  the  field  of  teaching  gram- 
mar after  1825.  As  late  as  1835  the  idea  of  using  slates  and  black- 
boards was  exceedingly  novel ;  in  only  a  few  schools  does  it  appear  to 
have  been  attempted  before  that  time.  William  A.  Alcott,  whom  we 
have  seen  above  dispensing  with  grammar  books  as  far  as  possible, 
testifies  that  in  1830  "  the  idea  of  studying  grammar  with  slates  and 
pencils  was  so  novel  that  I  found  no  difficulty  in  gaining  general 
attention."  Children  wrote  names  of  different  objects  held  before 
them;  they  read  the  lists  aloud,  classified  them,  and  wrote  new  lists 
of  objects  of  which  they  could  think.  Thus  was  employed  a  combi- 
nation method  of  visual  instruction  and  pupils'  activity.5  Rules  and 
regulations  for  the  schools  of  Salem,  Mass.,  require  that  "  every  lesson 
(in  grammar)  shall  be  accompanied  by  operations  on  the  blackboard . 
and  slates  (from  the  younger  pupils),  and  exercises  in  parsing  shall 
be  required  from  the  older  classes."  6  In  an  article  on  normal  schools, 
in  1843,  the  advice  is  given  that — 

the  first  principles  should  be  taught  orally  and  by  the  blackboard  and  slate.  So 
taught,  they  are  easy  and  pleasant,  and  throw  valuable  light  upon  the  arts  of 
reading  and  composition.  The  use  of  the  blackboard  is  very  important.  Write 
on  the  board,  "  It  is  she,"  not  "  It  is  her !  "  Require  the  pupils  to  make  for 
themselves,  and  write  on  their  slates,  ten  examples  of  similar  mistakes,  and 
their  corrections.  The  rule  is  learnt  better  than  by  months  of  repeating  the 
rule  in  parsing,  where  the  mind  is  little  better  than  passive.7 

Again,  James  Ray,  a  prominent  teacher  of  this  decade,  in  1830 
advises : 

In  the  study  of  Grammar  the  blackboard  may  be  used  to  exhibit  the  inflec- 
tions of  the  various  parts  of  speech ;  it  may  also  be  used  in  syntax,  to  point  out 
the  connection  of  the  principal  words  to  each  other.  The  method  of  doing  this 
is  by  writing  on  the  board  the  sentence  to  be  parsed,  and  then  connecting  by 
curved  lines  those  words  that  have  any  grammatical  connection  with  each 
other.  The  instructor  at  the  same  time  pointing  out  what  that  relation  is.  It 
may  be  observed  that  in  teaching  grammar  the  use  of  the  blackboard  is  con- 
fined to  the  teaching  the  elementary  principles  of  the  science,  [and]  is  used  by 
the  teacher  for  the  purpose  of  illustrating  these  principles.8 

The  foregoing  is  the  earliest  reference  the  writer  has  seen  pointing 
to  the  use  of  diagrams,  which,  after  the  middle  of  the  century,  came 
into  great  prominence  in  the  analysis  of  sentences. 

Massachusetts  school  committees  often  spoke  in  commendation  of 
the  new  movement  for  blackboards  facilitating  instruction  in  gram- 

«Am.  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.  (1837),  165. 

•Com.  Sen.  J.   (1842),  78. 

»Ibid.   (1843),  331 

•Ray,  Transactions  of  College  Teachers,  VI,  104. 

CHANGES  IN   METHOD  BEFORE   1850.  149 

mar.  For  instance,  the  Dighton  committee  said,  in  1843 :  "  The  black- 
board has  been  introduced  into  several  schools.  ...  By  means  of 
this  the  study  of  Orthography  and  English  Grammar  has  been 
facilitated."  9 

Samuel  J.  May  gi.ves  a  hint  concerning  the  very  earliest  appear- 
ances of  blackboards,  when,  describing  a  visit  to  the  school  of  Rev. 
Father  Francis  Brosius  in  Boston,  in  1814,  he  said :  "  On  entering 
his  room  we  were  struck  at  the  appearance  of  a  Blackboard  suspended 
on  the  wall.  ...  I  had  never  seen  such  a  thing  before  .  .  .  and  there 
I  first  witnessed  the  process  of  analytical  and  inductive  teaching."  10 
It  is  quite  certain,  however,  that  not  for  two  decades  after  1814  did 
the  rank  and  file  of  Massachusetts  schools  adopt  this  device  now 
regarded  as  so  indispensable  for  visual  instruction.  William  C. 
Woodbridge,  in  the  report  of  a  Boston  school  committee  on  improve- 
ments, in  1833,  strongly  recommended  slates  and  cards  in  the  primary 
schools.  He  added  that  means  for  visual  instruction  were  positively 
forbidden  in  Boston  by  the  general  committee.11  In  the  common 
schools  of  Connecticut  as  late  as  1832  "  slates,  blackboards,  and  appa- 
ratus are  almost  entirely  unknown  in  the  district  schools,"  a  commit- 
tee on  common  schools  testified.12  Massachusetts  counties  in  general 
waited  for  the  boards  until  after  1840.13 


The  third  prominent  feature  of  innovating  methods  before  1850 
was  the  introduction  of  constructive  work  on  the  part  of  the  pupils, 
which  gradually  took  the  form  of  composition.  Of  course  dictation 
and  copying  exercises  were  very  old,14  and  disputations  dated  far 
before  the  beginnir^s  of  instruction  in  the  vernacular.  Moreover, 
writing  of  a  sort  had  accompanied  work  in  grammar  in  the  days  of 
Murray's  dominance  in  American  schools.  But  composition  as  an 
adjunct  to  the  study  of  grammar  did  not  become  prominent  until 
Barnard,  Fowle,  Mann,  Carter,  Rand,  and  others  championed  and 
advanced  it.    Fowle,  in  an  editorial  of  1852,  says  that — 

even  now,  a  large  number  of  our  schools  have  no  composition  taught  in  them. 
No  wonder,  for  not  one  teacher  in  10  can  write  with  tolerable  ease  and  correct- 
ness. In  an  institute  in  Massachusetts  (1850)  we  required  117  teachers  to 
write  what  they  could  in  fifteen  minutes  on  "  happiness."  At  the  end  of  fifteen 
minutes,  but  seven  teachers  had  done  anything,  and  four  of  these  had  requested 
to  be  excused  from  writing.  The  three  more  periods  of  fifteen  minutes  were 
given,  and  only  twenty  teachers  had  been  able  to  write  anything  in  the  end. 

•An.  Kept.  Supt.  Ed.    (1843),  234. 

10  Barnard,  Ed.  Biog.,  38. 

11  Am.  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.  (1833).  587. 
"Ibid.  (1832),  248. 

"  Ashbunham    comments,   in    1841  :   "  Schoolrooms  have  been   more  generally   furnished 
with  blackboards.'     Kept.  Supt.  Ed.  (1841),  71.     See  also  ibid.,  78;  1843,  234;  1841,  27. 
«  See  Chap.  V,  p.  127. 



Fowle  then  pertinently  asks :  "  How  can  such  teachers  give  instruc 
tion  in  English  Grammar  ?  "  15 

The  Massachusetts  school  reports  are  especially  clear  in  indicating 
that  composition  as  such  was  a  product  of  the  decade  1830  and  1840. 
In  1840  Sterling  reported  that  "  the  exercise  of  composition  has  been 
introduced  into  some  schools  with  encouraging  success.  This  impor- 
tant branch  has  been  too  much  neglected  in  former  years.  .  .  .  Eng- 
lish Composition  should  come  next  in  order  ...  to  grammar."  16 

The  committee  of  Carver,  in  1839,  explained  that  20  years  earlier 
the  art  of  composing  and  writing  received  no  attention : 

It  is  true  we  were  set  to  making  marks,  and  dashing  and  pointing  them  with 
our  pens  (writing)  .  .  .  but  .  .  .  there  are  but  few  now,  who  were  scholars 
then,  that  can  compose,  write  and  fold  a  letter,  in  a  handsome  form,  as  large 
numbers  of  our  children  from  ten  to  fifteen  years  of  age  can." 

The  Rockport  committee  "  urged  upon  the  more  advanced  scholars, 
who  are  acquainted  with  grammar,  the  importance  of  writing  com- 
position. .  .  .  This  should  be  a  standing  exercise  in  our  schools.  .  .  . 
This  exercise  is  too  much  regarded  as  a  matter  of  form."  18  Here  it 
is  to  be  noted  that  composition  first  came  into  the  curriculum  only 
after  the  pupil  had  some  acquaintance  with  grammar.  Later  periods 
reversed  the  order,  composition  preceding  grammar.  This  consti- 
tutes a  very  important  consideration.  The  committee  of  Dana,  in 
1843,  commended  oral  composition  in  the  following  language : 

The  practice  was  particularly  recommended  by  the  committee,  of  urging  the 
classes,  instead  of  giving  arbitrary  rules  from  the  book,  to  explain  their  opera- 
tion, and  to  give  their  reasons  in  their  own  language.  .  .  .  Exercises  in  com- 
position have  been  attended  to  in  some  of  the  schools.19 

Only  one  Massachusetts  committee,  in  1843,  found  a  satisfactory 
condition : 

In  the  juvenile  department  in  this  school  there  was  a  new  thing  exhibited  at 
the  examination,  about  fifteen  letters,  and  pieces  of  original  composition,  writ- 
ten by  little  children  under  ten  years  of  age,  and  written  with  a  simplicity, 
correctness  and  beauty,  which  surprised  as  much  as  it  delighted  us.M 

The  list  of  questions  which  Barnard  sent  to  the  Connecticut  teach- 
ers (1838-1841,  inclusive)  are  indicative  of  the  most  advanced  thought 
of  the  day.21 

1.  Do  you  classify  your  pupils  in  reference  to  teaching  composition? 

2.  Do  you  accustom  your  youngest  pupils  to  write  or  print  words  and  short 
sentences  on  the  slate,  from  your  dictation? 

3.  Do  you  ask  them  to  print  or  write  something  about  what  they  have  seen  in 
coming  to  school,  or  read  in  the  reading  lesson? 

4.  As  a  preliminary  exercise  in  composition,  do  you  engage  them  in  familiar 
talk  about  something  they  have  seen  in  their  walk,  or  has  happened  in  or  about 

"Com.  Sch.  J.   (1852).  375.  19  Ibid.    (1843),  83. 

"Mass.  Sch.  Ret.  (1840),  123.  2°  Ibid.   (1843),  215. 

"Ibid.  (1839),  413.  "Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  I,  692. 
18  Ibid.   (1841),  27. 

CHANGES   IN    METHOD  BEFORE   1850.  151 

the  school?  and  when  they  have  got  ideas,  and  can  clothe  them  orally  in  words, 
do  you  allow  them  as  a  privilege  to  write  or  print  the  same  011  the  slate  or 

5.  Do  you  give  out  a  number  of  words,  and  then  ask  your  pupils  to  frame 
sentences  in  which  those  words  are  used? 

6.  Do  you  require  your  older  pupils  to  keep  a  journal  or  give  an  account  of  the 
occurrences  of  the  day,  as  an  exercise  in  composition? 

7.  Do  you  instruct  your  pupils  as  to  the  most  approved  form  of  dating,  com- 
mencing, and  closing  a  letter? 

8.  Do  you  require  your  pupils  to  write  a  letter  in  answer  to  some  supposed 
inquiries  about  some  matter  of  fact? 

9.  Do  you  request  your  older  pupils  to  write  out  what  they  can  recollect  of  a 
sermon  or  lecture  they  have  heard,  or  of  a  book  they  have  been  reading? 

10.  At  what  age  do  your  pupils  usually  commence  writing  easy  sentences  or 

The  exceeding  reluctance  with  which  authors  of  treatises  on  gram- 
mar and  teachers  of  this  subject  came  to  the  realization  that  construc- 
tive written  work  on  the  part  of  pupils  ought  to  accompany  every 
stage  of  their  progress  is  clearly  marked  in  America  before  1850. 
Priestley  as  early  as  1772  recommends  the  practice  in  his  preface,22 
but  neither  his  nor  contemporary  textbooks  are  constructed  with  this 
purpose  in  mind.  Even  earlier  than  Priestley  we  have  seen  the 
Philadelphia  Academy  and  other  schools  of  advanced  ideas  employ- 
ing composition,  but  not  primarily  as  an  adjunct  to  grammar.23  But 
the  fact  is  that  the  practice  was  not  prevalent  in  American  schools. 
This  is  evident  not  only  from  the  complete  absence  of  suggestions 
for  composition  in  the  earlier  grammars  but  also  from  frequent 

22 "  We  must  introduce  into  the  schools  English  grammar,  English  composition,  and 
frequent  English  translations  from  authors  in  other  languages.  The  common  objection 
to  English  Compositions,  that  it  is  like  requiring  brick  to  be  made  without  straw  (boys  not 
being  supposed  to  be  capable  of  so  much  reflection,  as  is  necessary  to  treat  any  subject 
with  propriety)  is  a  very  frivolous  one  since  it  is  very  easy  to  contrive  a  variety  of  exer- 
cises introductory  to  themes  upon  moral  and  scientific  subjects,  in  many  of  which  the 
whole  attention  may  be  employed  upon  language  only  ;  and  from  thence  youth  may  be  led 
on  in  a  regular  series  of  compositions,  in  which  the  transition  from  language  to  sentiment 
may  be  as  gradual  and  easy  as  possible."     Priestley,  3d  ed.,  preface,  XXI. 

»  See  Chap.  Ill,  p.  46. 

2*  "  We  were  two  or  three  years  in  grammar ;  ...  we  were  never  required  to  write  a 
sentence  of  English,  and  we  never  did  write  one  as  a  school  exercise."  Wallis,  speaking 
of  Boston  schools  about  1800.     Com.  Sch.  J.  (1850),  5. 

'•We  were  educated  at  one  of  the  best  schools  .  .  .  but,  although  we  studied  English 
grammar  seven  years  and  received  a  silver  medal  for  our  proficiency,  we  never  wrote  a 
sentence  of  English  at  school  and  never  did  anything  which  implied  a  suspicion  on 
our  part  that  grammar  had  anything  to  do  with  writing  or  conversation."  Ibid.,  editorial 
(1849),  258. 

"  Composition  was  unknown  to  us.  We  were  supposed  to  acquire  '  the  art  of  writing 
the  English  Language  with  propriety'  by  a  textbook  study  of  Orthography,  Etymology. 
Syntax  and  Prosody,  without  writing  even  a  sentence."  Swett,  speaking  of  the  period, 
1830-1840,  Am.   Pub.  Sch.,  122. 

"  We  think  it  would  be  but  a  counterpart  to  our  grammars  for  children  if  some  philoso- 
pher were  to  publish  a  treatise  as  a  mode  for  discovering  the  center  of  gravity,  and  the 
laws  of  motion,  in  order  to  teach  the  children  how  to  walk  and  run."  Review  of  Everst's 
English  Grammar,  1835,  Am.  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.  (1835),  429. 


It  is  significant,  then,  to  find  grammars  after  1820  deliberately 
planning  exercises  in  composition.  They  do  not  attempt  "  themes 
upon  moral  and  scientific  subjects,"  as  Priestley  advised ;  indeed,  their 
suggestions  for  written  work  may  not  properly  be  called  composition 
at  all.  Koswell  Smith's  title,  "  Sentences  to  be  written,"  is  far  more 
exact.  Kirkham  had  nothing  to  contribute  to  this  advance,  content- 
ing himself  with  elaborate  parsing  and  false  syntax.  Goold  Brown 
follows  Murray  in  placing  exercises  after  each  of  the  four  divisions 
of  his  grammar,  urging  that  the  pupils  "  should  write  out " 25  their 
answers.  Smith  is  entitled  to  the  credit  of  making  the  first  distinctive 
step  toward  the  practice  of  sentence  building.  Scattered  through  his 
text  are  numerous  headings  entitled  "  Sentences  to  be  written."  The 
purpose  is  to  -employ  the  constructive  activities  of  pupils  as  a  means 
of  fixing  the  grammatical  principles  they  have  just  been  studying.26 
Remembering  the  dates  of  Smith's  books — 1829  and  1831 — we  see 
that  he  stands  in  point  of  time  at  the  head  of  the  movement  for  com- 
position in  Massachusetts  discussed  above.27 

Wells,  in  1846,  urged  that  teachers  write  models  on  the  board,  and 
that  they  also  write  lists  of  words  and  have  the  pupils  compose  sen- 
tences embracing  them.  He  goes  a  step  in  advance,  advising :  "After 
the  pupils  have  in  this  manner  exemplified  the  various  modifications 
of  the  parts  of  speech,  they  should  be  required  to  write  several  com- 
positions of  considerable  length."  28  Naturally  we  find  Greene,  in  his 
"Analysis  of  Sentences,"  taking  even  more  advanced  ground.  In  his 
preface  he  affirms  that  "  the  only  successful  method  of  obtaining  a 
knowledge  of  that  art  (writing  and  speaking  correctly)  is  by.  means 
of  construction  and  analysis.29  In  the  text  proper  construction  exer- 
cises begin  on  page  13,  a  footnote  saying :  "  These  exercises  may  be 
written  or  recited  orally.    It  is  recommended  that  the  practice  of  writ- 

25  English   Grammar,   100. 

M  Sentences   to  be   written  : 

"  '  Q.  Will  yon  compose  two  sentences,  each  having  a  different  adjective  pronoun  ?  One, 
having  a  demonstrative  pronoun?  One,  having  an  indefinite  pronoun  used  as  a  noun?'" 
Eng.   Gram.  Prod.   Sys.,  58. 

21  Richard  G.  Parker's  book.  "  Progressive  Exercises  in  English  Composition,"  Boston, 
1832,  enjoyed  a  remarkable  sale.  It  reached  its  forty-fifth  edition  in  1845.  New  editions 
were  published  in  1855  and  1856.  Parker  published  a  "  Sequel  "  in  1835  and.  in  1844, 
"Aids  to  English  Composition."  which  reached  its  twentieth  edition  in  1850.  The  sal»  of 
these  series  is  indicative  of  the  trend  toward  composition.  Parker,  collaborating  with  C. 
Fox,  in  1834,  published  also  "  Progressive  Exercises  in  English  Grammar."  Part  II,  1835, 
Part  III,  1840.  A  favorable  review  of  the  first  book  describes  it  as  being  "  without  a 
formidable  array  of  long  definitions  and  unintelligible  rules."  Am.  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins. 
(1835),    47. 

28  Sch.   Gram.,   24. 

29  Analysis.  4.  Contrast  this  with  Goold  Brown's  statement :  "  The  only  successful 
method  of  teaching  grammar  is  to  cause  the  principal  definitions  and  rules  to  be  com- 
mitted thoroughly  to  memory,  that  they  may  ever  afterwards  be  readily  applied."  Brown, 
preface,  VI.  The  contrasted  statements  indicate  the  two  radically  different  conceptions  of 
grammatical  instruction,  one  of  which  was  passing,  the  other  of  which  was  entering,  in 

CHANGES   IN    METHOD   BEFORE   1850.  153 

ing  lessons  should  be  adopted  as  a  general  rule."  30  Moreover,  Greene 
desires  that  "  the  exercises,  after  being  corrected,  should  be  copied 
into  a  writing  book."  31 

As  may  be  expected,  it  is  impossible  to  assign  a  date  at  which  con- 
structive work,  closely  associated  with  grammatical  study,  entered 
school  practice.  However,  it  appears  safe  to  say  that  it  was  the  out- 
come of  the  influences  we  have  seen  at  work  in  the  period  between 
1825  and  1850.32  The  discussion  may  be  fittingly  closed' by  citing  the 
practice  of  two  schools,  which  for  their  generation  were  exceedingly 
progressive.  A  teacher  of  1830,  describing  methods  which  he  has 
found  profitable,  recommends  voluntary  composition,  the  pupils  to 
continue  their  work  on  their  own  account  by  keeping  journals.  The 
variety  of  exercises  suggested  includes  writing  abstracts  from  mem- 
ory; taking  notes  on  lectures;  abridgments;  dialogues,  real  and 
imaginary;  stories  for  children;  narratives  of  personal  adventure; 
discussion  of  questions;  and  the  like.  The  voluntary  reading  of 
articles  at  stated  periods  is  also  recommended.33  Of  course  this  pro- 
cedure is  exceedingly  advanced;  it  is  practically  composition  as  we 
understand  the  term  to-day.  A  more  representative  program  of  the 
period  in  question  is  found  in  the  following  account  of  a  female  school 
of  Boston  in  1832 : 

Care  has  been  taken  to  improve  all  occasional  opportunities  of  directing  the 
attention  of  the  pupils  to  the  etymology,  the  signification,  and  the  appropriate 
use  of  words,  as  they  occur  in  connection,  and  while  the  interest  felt  in  their 
meaning  is  still  fresh  in  the  mind.  Exercises  in  the  defining  of  words  and  in  the 
distinguishing  synonyms  are  occasionally  prescribed.  The  practice  of  substi- 
tuting equivalent  words,  phrases,  sentences,  and  thoughts  is  likewise  employed. 
The  analysis  of  figurative  language  to  the  same  end,  A  practical  course  in 
grammar  is  comprehended  in  the  daily  exercises  in  composition  and  a  systematic 
view  of  the  principles  of  the  science  has  been  taken.34 


Methods  of  teaching  grammar  have  now  been  traced  for  about  100 
years  from  its  beginnings  in  America  about  1750  to  the  middle  of  the 
nineteenth  century.    For  the  first  75  years  instruction  centered  almost 

30  Analysis.    13. 

81  Ibid.,    18,    1. 

32  John  Flint,  who  published  "  First  Lessons  in  English  Grammar  upon  a  Plan  Inductive 
and  Intellectual,"  in  1833,  deserves  credit  for  pioneer  work  in  sentence  building,  antedat- 
ing Greene  12  years.  An  editorial  in  the  American  Annals  says  :  "  Decidedly  thp  best 
introductory  work  we  have  seen.  The  pupil's  knowledge  is  given  by  examples  and  sen- 
tences in  which  he  finds  words  corresponding  to  definitions,  and  the  pupil  writes  sentences 
as  soon  as  may  be."  Am.  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.  (1833).  334.  Dyer  H.  Sanborn's  "Analytical 
Grammar,"  1836.  receives  similar  commendation.  Ibid.  (1837),  143.  F.  W.  Felch's  "A 
Comprehensive  Grammar,"  1837.  affirms  on  the  title  page  :  "  Designed  to  make  the  study 
of  grammar  and  composition  one  and  the  same  process."  Ibid.  (1837),  525.  Of  Wells  and 
Greene  a  committee  on  Boston  free  schools  declared,  in  1851,  that  they  were  adopted  "  all 
over  the  land  "  as  a  protest  against  teaching  Murray's  Latin  grammar  for  English."  Cora. 
Sch.   J.    (1851),   36. 

S3Erodore,  Am.  An.  of  Ed.  and  Ins.,  I,  266-9. 

"Am.   An.  of  Ed.   and   Ins.    (1832),  215. 


entirely  around  memorizing,  correcting  false  syntax,  and  parsing.  Of 
these  all  three  were  transferred  directly  from  practices  customary  in 
studying  Latin  grammar.  About  the  year  1823  changes  began  to 
creep  into  class  instruction.  Although  the  three  traditional  methods 
still  predominated,  especially*  parsing  and  memorizing,  influences 
were  at  work  which  made  the  need  of  remedies  felt  in  the  educational 
revival  of  the  second  quarter  of  the  century.  Most  conspicuous  among 
the  innovations  were,  first,  earnest  efforts  to  make  the  pupils  under- 
stand; second,  visual  and  oral  instruction;  and,  third,  the  beginnings 
of  constructive  work.  Most  conspicuous  among  grammarians  were 
Kirkham  and  Smith,  Wells  and  Greene ;  among  educational  leaders, 
Carter,  Rand,  Barnard,  and  Mann.  The  results  of  their  labors  were 
indeed  a  veritable  revolution,  both  in  the  conception  of  grammar  and 
in  the  methods  of  instruction,  a  revolution  the  nature  of  which  is 
well  illustrated  by  comparing  Goold  Brown's  statement  of  1823  with 
the  corresponding  statement  of  Greene  in  1847 : 

The  only  successful  method  of  teaching  grammar  is  to  cause  the  principal 
definitions  and  rules  to  be  committed  thoroughly  to  memory.     ( Brown. ) 

The  only  successful  method  of  obtaining  a  knowledge  of  the  art  is  by  means 
of  construction  and  analysis.35     (Greene.) 

88  Consideration  of  methods  after  1850  is  reserved  for  another  study.  Between  1850  and 
1920  we  may  distinguish  three  fairly  marked  periods  :  That  of  1847-1873,  which  may  be 
termed  the  inductive  period,  characterized  by  the  methods  whose  origin  has  just  been 
presented  ;  that  of  1873-1891,  which  may  be  termed  the  rhetorical  period,  marked  by  Swin- 
ton's  "Language  Lessons,"  White's  grammars  (1871),  the  Harvard  entrance  require- 
ments of  1873,  and  the  Connecticut  order  dropping  grammar  in  1891  ;  and  that  of  1891- 
1920,  which  may  be  termed  the  elimination  period  or  the  incidental  study  period,  the  chief 
tendency  of  which  is  the  gradual  subordination  of  formal  grammar  to  its  proper  place  as 
incidental  to  the  study  of  composition  and  literature. 



Henry  Barnard,  speaking  of  his  list  of  early  American  textbooks,36 
indicates  the  viewpoint  in  which  the  present  list  is  compiled.  He 
says :  "  This  information  in  many  cases  is  very  imperfect  and  unsatis- 
factory, but  it  will  at  least  serve  as  the  clue  to  further  inquiry ;  .  .  . 
many  errors  .  .  .  and  omissions  will  doubtless  be  detected  in  regard 
to  those  books  which  the  compiler  has  not  seen,  and  whose  titles,  dates, 
and  places  of  publication  and  authorship  have  been  gleaned  from 
numerous  sources  not  always  reliable." 


1706.  Greenwood,  James.    Essay  Toward  a  Practical  English  Grammar,  2d  ed., 

London,  1711,  12°,  315  pp. 
1724-  Jones,  Hugh.     A  Short  English  Grammar:  An  Accidence  to  the  English 

Tongue.     London. 

See  Chapter  II  for  further  description  of  the  first  10  grammars  in  this  list. 
1740.  Dilworth,  Thomas.     A  New  Guide  to  the  English  Tongue,  Containing  a 

Brief  but  Comprehensive  English  Grammar.     London. 
1751.  Harris,  James.    Hermes,  or  a  Philosophical  Inquiry  Concerning  Universal 

Grammar.    6th  ed.,  1806,  468  pp.,  8°. 

Harris's  work  was  not  a  textbook,  but  was  influential  in  shaping  most  of 

the  grammars  earliest  in  America.     Murray  acknowledges  his  indebtedness. 

(Introduction,   5.)      Harris  was   an   innovator   and   simplifler  among   gram- 
marians, using  only  four  classes  of  words,  after  Aristotle.     Book  reprinted 

in   Philadelphia.     Wickersham,   Hist,  of  Ed.  in  Pa.,  202.     Reached  7th  ed., 

1825.     Com.  Sch  J.,  Ill,  209. 

175 — .  Wiseman,  .     English  Grammar. 

Advertised,  Boston  Evening  Post,  Oct.  27,  1760. 
1753.  Fisher,  A.     A  Practical  New  Grammar.     28th  ed.,  London,  1795,  176  pp., 


Follows  Harris  with  four  kinds  of  speech  ;  no  cases,  no  moods,  only  three 

tenses.     Brown  used   "A  New   Edition,   Enlarged,   Improved   and   Corrected, 

1758.  Lowth.  Robert.     A  Short  Introduction  to  English  Grammar.     1st  Amer. 

ed.,  London,  1775,  132  pp.  12°. 

38  Barnard's  list,  Am.  J.  of  Ed.,  XII,  XIII,  XIV;  also  William  H.  Wells's  list  in  the 
preface  of  his  "A  Grammar  of  the  English  Language.''  Boston,  1852,  edition.  A  writer 
who  signs  himselt  W.  H.  W.  (probably  William  II.  Wells)  began  a  series  of  articles  on 
English  grammars  in  The  Common  School  Journal  Illness  compelling  him  to  cease  his 
labors,  another  writer  who  signs  his  articles  "  Wallis "  (probably  W.  M.  Fowle),  con- 
tinued the  series  under  the  title  "  Grammars  Published  in  America  before  1804."  C.  S.  J., 
IX,  X,  XI,  XII.  A  fourth  list,  "American  Textbooks,"  anonymous,  is  found  in  Barnard's 
American  Journal  of  Education,  14,  600.  For  all  books  published  in  America  before  1792 
Evans's  "American  Bibliography  "  is  the  standard  source.  Evans  is  not  infallible,  how- 
ever;  a  few  books  before  1792  have  apparently  not  come  to  his  attention.  Goold  Brown, 
in  his  "  Grammar  of  Grammars,"  1851,  presents  a  list  of  some  350  authors  or  compilers  of 
grammatical    textbooks. 

The  present  writer  has  added  several  items  of  information,  mostly  fragmentary,  from 
announcements  of  publishers,  from  book  reviews  in  the  early  educational  journals,  and 
from  stray  references  in  town  histories,  reports  of  school  societies,  addresses  in  educa- 
tional conventions,  and  pedagogical  tracts. 



1160.   [Anonymous.]      The    British    Grammar.      1st    American    ed.,    1784,    251 

PP.,  8°. 
1760.  Gough*  James.     English  Grammar.    212  pp.,  18°. 

Advertised,  Providence  Gazette,  Oct.  24,  1767.     1760  is  date  of  2d  ed.  "A 

publication  of  little  merit,  much  of  it  borrowed  from  earlier  writers."     W.  H. 

Wells,    Com     Sch.    J.,   Ill,   210. 

1762.  Priestley,  Joseph.     The  Rudiments  of  English  Grammar.    3d  ed.,  London, 

202  pp.,  IS0. 

Reprinted  in  Philadelphia.  Wickersham,  op.  cit.,  202.  Simplifier,  like 
Harris  and  Fisher.     "A  production  of  little  merit."     Wells,  op.  cit.,  229. 

1763.  Ash,    John.      Grammatical   Institutes,    or    an    Easy    Introduction    to    Dr. 

Lowth's  English  Grammar.    London,  163  pp.  24°. 

First  American  reprint,  1774,  by  Hugh  Gaine,  New  York.    Evans,  5,  5. 

1765.  Johnson,  Somuel.     An  English  Grammar;   the  First  Easy  Rudiments  of 

Grammar  Applied  to  the  English  Tongue  By  One  Who  is  Extremely 
Desirous  to  Promote  Good  Literature  in  America,  and  Especially  a 
Right  English  Education  for  the  Use  of  Schools.  New  York,  36  pp.. 

This  appears  to  have  been  the  first  English  grammar  prepared  by  an 
American  and  published  in  America.  Evans,  Am.  Bibl.,  4,  18,  10025.  See 
Chap.  II,  p.  35. 

1766.  Burn,  John.     A  Practical  Grammar  of  the  English  Language.     Glasgow, 


1767.  Buchanan,  James.     A  Regular  English  Syntax.     194  pp.,  12°. 

First  American  reprint,  1780.  Evans,  6,  68.  "A  most  egregious  plagiarism, 
borrowed  from  the  British  Grammar,  half  the  volume  copied  verbatim." 
Wells,    op.    cit.,    3,    237. 

1772.  Adam,  Alexander.     Latin  and  English  Grammar.     Edinburgh. 

"An  English  Grammar  that  was  connected  with  Adams's  Latin  Grammar 
.  .  .  far  more  English  than  Murray's."     Wallis,  Com.  Sch.  J.,  XII,  118. 

1773,  Byerley,  Thomas.     A  Plain  and  Easy  Introduction  to  English  Grammar. 

New   York. 
177 — .  Hall,  James.     English  Grammar. 

Hall  founded  a  school   (1778)  In  Bethany,  N.  C.     He  conducted  classes  in 

English  grammar  ;   wrote  and   published  a  book  that  had  wide  circulation. 

Raper,  The  Church  and  Private  Schools  of  North  Carolina,  55,  citing  Foote's 

Sketches,    336. 
1779.  Curtis,   Abel.     A  Compend  of  English   Grammar,   Being  an  Attempt  to 

Point  Out  the   Fundamental   Principles  of  the  English  Language. 

Dresden  (Dartmouth  College),  49  pp.,  16°. 
Benezet,  Anthony.    An  Essay  Toward  the  Most  Easy  Introduction  to  the 

Knowledge  of  the  English  Grammar.    6  pp.,  12°. 
Compiled  for  the  Pennsylvania  Spelling  Book.     Evans  lists  the  grammar 

also  as  a  separate  book.     Evans,   6,   4. 
178^.  Webster,  Noah,  jr.     A  Grammatical  Institute  of  the  English  Language. 

In  three  parts.     Part   2,   Containing  a   Plain  and  Comprehensive 

Grammar   Grounded   on   the  True   Principles   and   Idioms  of   the 

Language.     Hartford.    139  pp.,  16°. 
Kenrick,   William.     A   Rhetorical   Grammar   of  the   English   Language. 


1785.  Bingham,   Caleb.     The  Young  Ladies  Accidence;   or  a   Short  and   Easy 

Introduction  to  English  Grammar;  Designed  Principally  for  the 
Use  of  Young  Learners,  More  Especially  Those  of  the  Fair  Sex, 
though  Suitable  to  Both.     Boston,  45  pp.,  16°. 

1786.  Mennye,  J.    An  English  Grammar.     New  York. 

1787.  Ussher,  George  M.     The  Elements  of  English  Grammar.     London. 

American  edition,  1790,  Portsmouth,  N.  H.  Evans,  8,  98.  Printed  for 
J.  Metcher,  especially  for  young  ladies.     3d  Am.  ed.  in  1804,  Exeter,  N.  H. 


1787.  Harrison,   Ralph.     Rudiments  of  English   Grammar.     Philadelphia,   102 
pp..  18°. 

Mentioned  by  Wickersham  as  one  of  the  first  used  in  Pennsylvania.     Hist, 
of  Ed.  in  Pa.,  202.     An  English  book,  9th  ed.,  Philadelphia,  1812. 
178 — .   [Anonymous.]     A  Comprehensive  Grammar.     Philadelphia,  173  pp.,  18°. 
1789  is  date  of  3d  ed.     Evans,  7,  305. 

1790.  Webster.  Noah.     The  Rudiments  of  English  Grammar.    Hartford,  80  pp., 


The  Rudiments  was  first  printed  as  part  2  of  the  Little  Readers'  Assistant ; 
then,  at  the  request  of  the  Hartford  school  authorities,  was  twice  printed 
as  a  separate  book,  in   1790.     Evans,  8,   105. 

1791.  Hutchins.  Joseph.     An  Abstract  of  the  First  Principles  of  English  Gram- 

mar.    Hartford,  24°. 

Mentioned  by  George  A.  Plimpton.  Murray,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  N.  J.,  51. 
"  Compiled  for  the  use  of  his  own  school."     Title  page,  Evans,  8,  164. 

1792.  Alexander,    Caleb.      A    Grammatical    System    of   the   English   Language. 

Boston.  96  pp.,  12°. 

"  Comprehending  a  Plain  and  Familiar  Scheme  of  Teaching  Young  Gentle- 
men  and   Ladies   the  Art   of   Speaking  and   Writing  correctly  their   Native 
Tongue."     Evans,  8,  242.     10th  ed.,  Keene,  N.  H.,  1814. 
[Anonymous.]     The  Young  Gentlemen  and  Ladies'  Accidence,  or  a  Com- 
pendious Grammar  of  the  English  Tongue,  Plain  and  Easy.    Boston. 
Attributed    to   Noah    Webster. 
Humphries,   Daniel.     The  Compendious   American   Grammar,   or  Gram- 
matical Institutes  in  Verse.    Portsmouth,  N.  H,  71  pp.,  12°. 

Tichnor,  Elisha.     English  Exercises.    2  pp.,  18°. 

1792   is  3d   ed.      "All   the   rules   of   Parsing  .  .  .  facilitates   grammatical 
knowledge."      Evans,    8,   363. 
17,9//.  Knowles,  John.    Principles  of  English  Grammar.    3d  ed. 

1795.  Carroll,  James.     American  Criterion  of  English  Grammar.     New  London, 


Dearborn,  Benjamin.    The  Columbian  Grammar.    Boston,  12°. 

George  A.  Plimpton  assigns  date,  1792.     Murray,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  N.  J.,  51. 

Used   the   question-and-answer    method. 
Miller.  Alexander.     Concise  Grammar  of  the  English  Tongue.     119  pp., 

Murray,  Lindley.     English  Grammar,  Adapted  to  the  Different  Classes 

of  Learners.     London. 

1796.  An  English  Grammar. 

Barnard  lists,  by  printer  ;  information  very  fragmentary. 
Xyg — ,  Bullard,    Asa.     An   Abridgment  of   Murray's   English   Grammar,   by   a 
Teacher  of  Youth.     Boston. 

10th  ed.  in  1817.     Succeeded  Bingham's  Young  Ladies'  Accidence  in  Bos- 
ton schools. 
1897.  Burr,  Jonathan.     A  Compendium  of  English  Grammar.     Boston,  72  pp., 

17.97.  Macintosh,  Duncan.    An  Essay  on  English  Grammar.    Boston,  239  pp.,  8°. 
179 — .  Marshall.     English  Grammar. 

Written  by  an  American  author,  contemporary  of  Webster ;  date  uncer- 
tain. Mentioned  in  Education  in  New  Hampshire,  Am.  Ann.  of  Ed.  and  Ins., 
1833,  435. 

1799.  Stanford,  Daniel.     A  Short  but  Comprehensive  English  Grammar.  18°. 

2d  ed.  in  1800,  4th  in  1807.  "Fell  into  the  traces  of  Murray."  Wallis, 
Com.  Sch.  ,L,  12,  203.     Brown  says  1st  ed.  1807,  96  pp.,  12°. 

1800.  Woodbridge,  William.     Plain  and  Concise  Grammar. 

George  A.  Plimpton,  Hist,  of  Ed.  in  N.  J.,  51. 

1801.  Gurney,  David.    English  Grammar.    Boston.  18°. 

2d  ed..  1808.  Brown.    Barnard  calls  it  "  Columbian  Accidence." 

1802.  Cochran,  Peter.    An  English  Grammar.     Boston,  71  pp.,  18°. 





(From  Observations  on  Liberal  Educa- 
tion (1742),  1762,  ed\,  4-9.) 


(Smyth,   Writings  of  Benj.   Franklin. 

II,  391  et  seq.) 


"  One  exercise  should  be  daily  to  write 
a  page  of  English,  and  after  that  to 
examine  every  word  by  the  grammar 
rules,  and  every  sentence  they  have 
composed,  to  oblige  them  to  give  an 
account  of  the  *  English  syntax  and 

"  The    English    Language    might    be 
taught  by  Grammar." 


".  .  .  who  thinks  it  worth  while  learn- 
ing to  write  this  (mother  tongue)? 
Every  one  is  suffered  to  form  his  own 
stile  by  chance;  to  imitate  the  first 
wretched  model  which  falls  in  his  way, 
before  he  knows  what  is  faulty,  or  can 
relish  the  beauties  of  a  just  simplicity. 
.  .  .  Right  education  would  have  .  .  . 
taught  them  to  acquire  habits  of  writ- 
ing their  own  language  easily  under 
right  direction;  and  this  would  have 
been  useful  to  them  as  long  as  they 

"The  Stiles  principally  to  be  culti- 
vated being  the  clear  and  the  concise. 
.  .  .  To  form  their  Stile,  they  should 
be  put  on  Writing  Letters  to  each 
other,  making  Abstracts  of  what  they 
read;  or  writing  the  same  Things  in 
their  own  Words;  telling  or  writing 
Stories  lately  read,  in  their  own  re- 
pressions. All  to  be  revis'd  and  cor- 
rected by  the  Tutor." 


"  I  need  not  advise  you  to  give  them 
a  taste  of  our  best  poets." 

"  Some  of  our  best  Writers,  as  Tilled 
son,  Addison,  Pope.  Algernon  Sidney. 
Cato's  letters,  etc.,  should  be  classiks/' 


".  .  .  obliging  them  to  speak  every  day 
their  unwritten  thought  on  any  sub- 
ject in  English.  Let  them  read  an  Ora- 
tion on  Tully  or  Livy  .  .  .  then  shut 
the  book,  and  speak  the  sense  of  it  ex 

"  Repeating  Speeches,  delivering  Ora- 




"  Make  them  read  aloud  gracefully, 
an  accomplishment  that  many  men  .  .  . 
cannot  perform,  because  they  are 
either  unexperienced  or  bashful." 

"To  form  their  Pronunciation  they 
may  be  put  oh  Declamations.  .  .  . 

Reading  should  also  be  taught  and 
pronouncing,  properly,  distincting,  em- 


"  Where  is  English  taught  at  pres- 
ent? Who  thinks  of  it  of  use  to  study 
correctly  the  language  which  he  is  to 
use  in  daily  life?  ...  It  is  in  this 
that  nobility  and  gentry  defend  their 
country ;  ...  it  is  in  this  that  lawyers 
plead,  the  divines  instruct,  and  all 
ranks  of  people  write  their  letters  and 
transact  all  their  affairs." 

"  It  is  therefore  propos'd  that  they 
learn  those  Things  that  are  likely  to 
be  most  useful.  .  .  .  Regard  being  had 
to  the  several  Professions  for  which 
they  are  intended." 

Between  the  passages  in  Turnbull  and  in  the  proposals  of  Franklin  there  is 
one  striking  dissimilarity.  The  former  is  outspoken  in  his  condemnation  of 
Latin  as  a  medium  of  universal  education.  Franklin,  who  in  other  places  voices 
the  same  sentiment,  in  his  proposals  contents  himself  merely  with  strong 
emphasis  upon  English  as  the  "most  useful"  and  "most  natural."  Smyth,  op. 
cit.,  38&-96.  The  explanation  is  simple:  Turnbull  was  writing  a  book  frankly 
to  substitute  the  vernacular  and  the  realities  for  classical  instruction,  while 
Franklin  was  propounding  the  program  for  a  school  he  wished  to  establish.  The 
former  could  afford  to  denounce  the  opposition,  the  latter  could  not.  As  always 
the  practical  man  is  cautious,  conciliatory,  compromising.  The  student  of 
Franklin's  early  advocacy  of  the  mother  tongue  is  frequently  struck  by  the 
extreme  diplomacy  with  which  he  sought  to  bring  it  forward. 




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1  Various  other  minor  texts  consulted,  named  in  Appendix  B. 



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Grammar  of  English  Grammars.    New  York,  1850. 

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Academy  and  Charity  School  of  Philadelphia, 
history,  38,  43-49;  influence,  49-55. 

Alcott,  William  A.,  on  study  of  grammar,  148. 

Barnard,  Henry,  and  reform  in  study  of  grammar, 
142-143,  150-151. 

Bearing  of  grammar  on  modern  problems,  8-10. 

Beginnings  of  grammar,  8. 

Bible,  emphasis  on  instruction,  New  England 
colonies,  16-17. 

Bibliography,  155-168. 

Bingham,  Caleb,  school  in  Boston,  78-79;  textbook, 
79,  81. 

Blackboard,  use,  149. 

Boston,  Mass.,  introduction  of  grammar  in  schools, 

Brinsley,  John,  on  memorizing  rules,  113, 117;  pars- 
ing, 120;  study  of  Latin,  109. 

Brosius,  Rev.  Francis,  school  in  Boston,  149. 

Brown,  Goold,  on  grammar  as  an  art,  107,  111,  114; 
memorizing  rules,  138-139;  parsing,  121;  text- 
books, 84. 

Brown  University,    See  Rhode  Island  College. 

Buchanan,  James,  on  study  of  grammar,  114. 

Byerley,  Thomas,  methods  of  teaching  grammar, 

Carew,  Richard,  on  teaching  English,  59. 

Charity  schools,  Great  Britain  and  Ireland,  curricu- 
lum, 14. 

Clajon,  William,  and  instruction  in  English  gram- 
mar at  Annapolis,  Md.,  30. 

Colburn,  Warren,  series  of  readers,  140-141. 

Colet,  on  study  of  Latin,  107-109,  111. 

College  of  New  Jersey.    See  Princeton  College. 

Colleges.  American,  early  instruction  in  grammar, 
36-42.    Seealso  Higher  education. 

Colonial  schools,  reading  and  writing  stressed,  17-18. 

Colonies,  educational  treatises,  55-56. 

Columbia  College,  early  instructions grammar,37. 
See  also  King's  College. 

Connecticut;  legislation  regarding  grammar  ,74. 

Constructive  work,  149-153. 

Coote,  Edmund,  vernacular  textbook  for  "pettie" 
schools,  12-13. 

Curriculum,  Franklin's  academy,  45-46; influence, 
adding  grammar  to,  43-69. 

Dame  schools,  New  England,  18-19. 

Educational  theories  supporting  grammar  in 
America  up  to  1775,  55-69. 

Educational  treatises  in  the  colonies,  55-56. 

England,  character  of  vernacular  instruction  (1596- 
1622),  12-15. 

English  grammar,  before  1775,  21-33;  before  1784, 
33-36;  before  1800,  chronological  catalogue,  155- 
157;  early  appearance  in  America,  21-42;  inten- 
sive study,  6-8. 

"English  grammar  school, '  earliest  uses  of  the 
name,  24-25. 

English  schools,  significance  of  rise,  76-77. 
English  tongue,  standardizing  and  preserving,  61- 

English  vernacular,  early  instruction*  11-12. 
False  syntax,  122-124. 
Formalism  in  grammar,  protest,  143. 
Fowle,  William  B.,  on  influence  of  Webster  and 

Bingham,  79;  study  of  EngUsh  grammar,  131; 

study  of  grammar,  147, 149. 
Franklin,  Benjamin,  on  instruction  in  EngUsh,  65; 

influence  of  his  school,  49-55;  scheme  for  English 

academy  in  Philadelphia,  49-55. 
Franklin  and  Turnbull,  comparison  of  English 

programs,  158-159. 
Georgia,  instruction  in  grammar,  31-32. 
Germantown  Union  School.  Pa.,  instruction  in 

grammar,  28. 
Gough,  William,  school  in  South  Carolina  con- 
sidered doubtful,  31. 
Grammar,  definitions,  105-107.    See  also  EngUsh 

Greenwood,  James,  on  study  of  EngUsh  grammar, 

Griffith,  John,  announcement  of  instruction  in 

EngUsh  grammar,  25. 
Harvard  CoUege,  early  instruction  in  grammar, 

High  schools,  status  of  grammar  in  1867, 101. 
Higher  education  for  the  masses  in  1650  and  in  1750, 

66-67.    See  also  CoUeges. 
Hoole,  Charles,  description  of  vernacular  instruc- 
tion at  the  end  of  the  sixteenth  century,  13-14. 
Hughes,   Hugh,  methods  of  teaching  grammar, 

Inductive  approach,  agents  and  agencies,  140-143. 
Inductive  movement,  appUed  to  grammar,  chief 

features,  144-153. 
Instruction,  absence  of  grammatical,  in  EngUsh,  24; 

revolt  against  meaningless,  144-146;  visual  and 

oral,  146-149. 
Johnson,  WilUam,  EngUsh  grammar  school,  in 

Charleston,  S.  C,  32,  64. 
Jones,  Hugh,  first  American  author  of  a  textbook 

in  English  grammar,  33,  36-37. 
King's  CoUege,  first  advertisement  of  English  in- 
struction, 64;  instruction  in  grammar,  36-37.    See 

also  Columbia  College. 
Kirkham,  Samuel,  popularity  of  textbooks,  134- 

135;  textbooks,  84,  87. 
Lancastrian  system,  114-115. 
Latin,  burden  of  learning,  56-58;  revolt  against, 

headed  by  John  Locke,  11. 
Latin  and  rote  periods,  summary  of  methods, 

Latin  grammar,  methods  of  study  in  seventeenth 

century,  107-111;  traditional  methods  of  teaching 

transferred  to  EngUsh  grammar,  103-131. 




Latin  methods^  carried  directly  to  English  gram- 
mar, 111-120. 

Legislative  recognition  of  grammar,  70-77. 

List  of  authorities  cited,  161-168. 

Locke,  John,  and  revolt  against  the  Latin  curricu- 
lum, 11-12. 

Lowth,  Robert,  on  false  syntax,  123;  learning  gram- 
mar, 113-114. 

Mann,  Horace,  and  reform  in  study  of  grammar, 
142-145,  147. 

Maryland,  instruction  in  grammar,  30,  53. 

Massachusetts,  education  in  Colonial  period,  15-17; 
instruction  in  grammar,  71-73;  legislation  regard- 
ing grammar,  85-87;  textbooks  in  grammar,  85-87. 

May,  Samuel  J.,  on  early  use  of  blackboards,  149. 

Memorization,  rules,  113-116;  devices  to  aid,  116-118. 

Methods  before  1850,  gradual  changes,  132-154. 

Methods  used  in  grammar  schools,  New  York,  128- 

Michigan,  instruction  in  grammar,  98-99. 

Milton,  John,  on  teaching  English,  59. 

Murray,  Lindley,  on  false  syntax,  124;  memorizing 
rules,  117;  textbooks,  79-80,  83-84. 

New  England,  early  education,  15-17;  legislation 
regarding  grammar,  70-73;  rapid  rise  of  grammar 
after  Revolution,  70-76;  teaching  grammar  before 
1775,  23-25. 

New  England  Primer,  first  book  printed,  19. 

New  Hampshire,  instruction  in  grammar,  88,  97-98; 
legislation  regarding  grammar,  74-75. 

New  Jersey,  instruction  in  grammar,  26-28,  94-95. 

New  York,  first  legislation  to  definitely  speak  of 
grammar,  73-74;  grammar  as  part  of  curriculum 
of  academies,  82-85;  instruction  in  grammar,  25- 
26,  95-96;  methods  of  teaching  grammar,  128-130 
textbooks  in  grammar,  83-85. 

North  Carolina,  instruction  in  grammar,  90-92. 

Ohio,  instruction  in  grammar,  96-97,  88-90. 

Oratory,  instruction,  61-63,  65. 

Parsing,  120-122.    See  also  False  syntax. 

Pennsylvania,  instruction  in  grammar,  29-30,  92-93; 
Pestalozzianism,  and  Roswell  C.  Smith,  135-138; 
criticisms  by  Goold  Brown,  137-138. 

"  Pettie  schools,"  vernacular  textbook,  12-13. 

Philadelphia  Academy.  See  Academy  and  Charity 
School  of  Philadelphia. 

Princeton  College,  instruction  in  grammar,  38-39. 

Priestly,  Joseph,  argument  for  simplicity  in  teach- 
ing grammar,  119;  false  syntax,  124. 

Purposes  of  the  study,  5-6. 

Queen's  College,  instruction  in  grammar,  40. 

Rand,  Asa,  on  memorizing  rules,  114. 

Rapid  rise  of  English  grammar  after  1775,  70-102. 

Ray,  James,  on  study  of  grammar,  148. 

Revolution,  rapid  rise  of  grammar  after,  70. 

Rhode  Island  College,  instruction  in  grammar, 

Rate  periods  and  Latin,  summary  of  methods, 

Rules  of  grammar.    See  Memorization. 

Rutgers  College.    See  Queen's  College. 

Schoolmasters  teaching  English  grammar  before 
1775,  21-33. 

Schools  and  schoolmasters,  teaching  grammar  be- 
fore 1775,  21-33. 

Seventeenth  century,  education  in  the  classics,  11. 

Sheridan,  Thomas,  on  revival  of  the  art  of  speaking, 
etc.,  61-63. 

Simplifying  terms,  118-119. 

Smith,  Provost,  on  English  instruction,  65. 

Smith,  Roswell  C,  textbook,  84," 87,  135. 

See  also  Pestalozzianism. 

Somerset  Academy,  Maryland,  53. 

South  Carolina,  first  school  teaching  the  mother 
tongue  "grammatically,"  43. 

Standardizing  and  preserving  the  English  tongue, 

Status  of  grammar  (1850-1870),  92-102. 

Steele,  Richard,  on  instruction  in  grammar,  58. 

Textbooks,  flood  after  1784,  77-82;  in  Colonies, 
68-69;  nature  of  dominating  (1823-1850),  134-140; 
representative  States  (1800-1850),  82-92. 

See  also  Bibliography. 

Turnbull  and  Franklin,  comparison  of  English 
programs,  158-159. 

University  of  North  Carolina,  early  instruction  in 
grammar,  40-41. 

University  of  the  State  of  New  York,  regents'  re- 
port on  English  grammar,  73. 

Vermont,  instruction  in  grammar,  87-88;  legislation 
regarding  grammar,  73. 

Vernacular  instruction,  character  in  America  (1620- 
1720),  17-20;  character  in  England,  (1596-1622), 
12-15;  reasons  for  early  emphasis  in  America, 

Vernacular  school,  first  important,  8. 

Virginia,  instruction  in  grammar,  31-32. 

Visual  and  oral  instruction,  146-149. 

Ward,  Joseph,  on  absence  of  grammatical  instruc- 
tion in  English,  24;  value  of  English  to  masses,  59. 

Ward,  William,  on  memorizing  rules,  115. 

Wassamacaw,  S.  C,  first  school  teaching  mother 
tongue  "grammatically,"  43. 

Waterland,  William,  teacher  of  grammar  in  South 
Carolina,  31. 

Watson,  William,  on  school  in  Charleston,  S.  C,  60. 

Webster,  Noah,  rhetorical  school  in  Hartford,  Conn., 
77;  textbooks,  77-78. 

Wells,  William  H.,  on  oral  instruction  in  grammar, 

Woodbridge,  William  C,  on  study  of  grammar, 


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